Sharks look to avoid letdown in Pittsburgh


Sharks look to avoid letdown in Pittsburgh

Feb. 23, 2011

SHARKS (34-21-6) vs.
PITTSBURGH (36-20-5)

Coverage begins at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The San Jose Sharks have been awfully good defensively during their second-half resurgence, never allowing more than three goals during a stretch that's seen them win 13 of 16.

Holding the Pittsburgh Penguins down isn't nearly the challenge that it once was.

The Sharks seek a season high-tying fifth consecutive victory Wednesday night in Pittsburgh, where the Penguins hope the acquisition of forward James Neal will give their floundering offense a boost.

NEWS: NHL standings

San Jose (33-21-6) allowed 2.80 goals per game during a 21-19-5 start that had it in 10th place in the Western Conference.

It was hard to believe one of the league's best regular-season teams over the past decade was in danger of missing the playoffs, but the Sharks are back among the West's top four after allowing an average of 1.81 goals over their past 16.

They improved to 13-2-1 in that stretch - and stayed just a point behind Pacific Division-leading Phoenix - with a 4-3 win at Detroit on Tuesday.

REWIND: Sharks hang on to defeat Red Wings

"Our playoffs started 15 games ago," said captain Joe Thornton, who scored his 300th career goal and assisted on both of Devin Setoguchi's tallies.

The Penguins (36-20-5) are also in fourth place in their conference, but the explosive offense that helped carry them to two of the past three Stanley Cup finals is a shell of what it once was.

After initially surviving without Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and a lineup that's currently missing eight other forwards, Pittsburgh is starting to stumble. The Penguins have scored 14 goals over their last eight games.

RELATED: Spotlight on Pittsburgh

That's why general manager Ray Shero made a move Monday, trading defenseman Alex Goligoski to Dallas for Neal - a 20-goal scorer in each of his first three seasons - and defenseman Matt Niskanen.

"There's not many of these power guys in the game," Shero said of the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Neal. "And (James), on our list, is one of the better ones in the game and has got some room to grow. That's why when you can get a guy like Neal - the opportunity might not be there again."

Hours after the trade, Pittsburgh showed why the addition of Neal was so necessary. Despite putting 39 shots on goal at Michal Neuvirth, the Penguins were beaten 1-0 by Washington.

Five of those shots came from center Jordan Staal, who saw his five-game point streak end. Coach Dan Bylsma said Tuesday that he'll install Neal on the left side of the team's top line with Staal and Tyler Kennedy.

"I think (Neal is) going to make us a better team going into (Wednesday's) game and give us a chance to get what we need to get wins," Bylsma said. "With Jordan, I can see them being a real formidable pair."

With top defenseman Paul Martin out Wednesday with an upper-body injury, Niskanen is expected to join Kris Letang on the team's No. 1 power-play unit.

The Penguins haven't scored more than two goals against San Jose in seven meetings since December 2002, as the Sharks have gone 6-0-1.

Thornton has rarely done anything but win versus Pittsburgh. Dating to his days with Boston, Thornton's teams are 15-1-2 against the Penguins since December 2001.

He has 10 goals and 25 assists in those contests.

This will be the first meeting between these teams since the Sharks routed Pittsburgh, 5-0, on November 7, 2009. The victory improved San Jose's record to 12-1-1-1 in the series since April 1998. ... The Sharks won their fourth game in a row with a 4-3 victory at Detroit on Tuesday. Their 13-2-1 record since January 15 represents the best winning percentage (.844) in the Western Conference over that span. ... After getting shut out on Monday, 1-0, the Penguins have failed to score more than three goals in 14 consecutive games, their longest such streak since 2003. ... Dany Heatley has scored 20 goals in 26 career games against the Penguins, the best rate (0.77 goals per game) by any active skater versus Pittsburgh (minimum 10 games). ... Devin Setoguchi followed his hat trick versus Colorado on Saturday with another two goals on Tuesday. He sports a 7 rating over his past 14 games after producing a mark of -15 over his first 38 games of the season. ... New Penguin James Neal has scored 10 points against San Jose in his career, his second-highest total versus any opponent (11 versus Anaheim). His six career goals against the Sharks are tied for his second most versus any foe (seven versus Edmonton).

Sharks win second straight, beat Devils to start road trip

Sharks win second straight, beat Devils to start road trip


NEWARK, N.J. — Martin Jones made 28 saves for his first shutout of the season and 16th overall in the San Jose Sharks' 3-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Friday night.

Melker Karlsson, Joe Pavelski and Joonas Donskoi scored and Justin Braun had two assists to help the Sharks open a five-game East Coast trip.

Keith Kinkaid, the top goalie for New Jersey with Cory Schneider on injured reserve, stopped 30 shots as the Devils' three-game winning streak came to an end.

The Devils couldn't muster a strong push in the later stages against the rested Sharks. It was New Jersey's second game two nights following a 5-4 overtime victory in Ottawa. And it showed against the Sharks, who played a solid road game, pressed their advantage and solidly supported Jones.

Karlsson scored the lone goal of the opening period at 14:11 on a close-in shot following a slick behind-the-net setup pass from Tomas Hertl.

The shots were 13 for each team in the evenly played period. The Devils came close on several occasions as former Shark Mirco Mueller and Blake Coleman both hit the crossbar and Jones robbed Drew Stafford on a dead-on drive from the slot.

Pavelski and Donskoi got second-period goals as the Sharks steadily tightened their grip on the game.

Pavelski tipped in Braun's point shot at 5:49. Joe Thornton got the second assist, his 1,395th point, to pass Luc Robitaille for 21st on the career list.

Donskoi backhanded a rebound shot with 1:10 left in the period in which the Sharks outshot the Devils 11-6.

The remaining drama centered on Jones' shutout bid.

NOTES: The Devils placed Schneider on injured reserve Friday with a lower-body injury and recalled Scott Wedgewood from Binghamton of the American Hockey League to serve as Kinkaid's backup. ... Mueller, a healthy scratch in three of the previous four games, returned for the Devils to face the Sharks, the team that drafted him in the first round, for the first time. He was dealt to New Jersey over the summer.


Sharks: At the New York Islanders on Saturday night.

Devils: Host Ottawa on Friday night.

Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch suspended one game


Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch suspended one game

Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch watched most of Thursday night’s game versus Kansas City from the stands after getting ejected for making contact with an official.

He’ll also be a spectator next week.

The NFL suspended him one game for unsportsmanlike conduct stemming from an incident where left the sidelines to join an on-field scuffle and ended up pushing an official.

The league announced the suspension Friday afternoon. Lynch has already appealed the suspension, per multiple reports.

He was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct and automatically ejected by rule.

Punishment after the fact has gotten expensive.

By rule, Lynch will be fined $30,387 for making contact with an official. He could get hit with other penalties, including entering a fight unnecessarily.

Lynch is also suspended without pay, meaning he’ll forfeit a $79,411 game check and a $31,250 per-game roster bonus.

The Cal alum won’t play a Week 8 contest in Buffalo, against a Bills team that drafted him No. 12 overall in 2007.

Lynch was on the sidelines during a third down draw play where quarterback Derek Carr incurred what officials called a late hit from Kansas City cornerback Marcus Peters.

The Raiders offensive line took offense, and came after Peters in a scrum. Lynch and Peters, both Oakland natives, are extremely close. Lynch ran on the field to get between his teammates and his friend, but ended up inadvertently pushing an official. The league has zero tolerance for that, and sent him off the field.

Lynch watched a dramatic 31-30 victory over Kansas City from the stands and screens near the field, and congratulated his teammates after a big win.

Lynch did not explain why he entered the fray, though he seemed to be trying to get Peters out of harm’s way.

“They can say what they want but one thing’s for certain: Family do come first,” Peters told Bay Area News Group’s Logan Murdock.

His Raiders teammates and coaches must carry on without the 31-year old power back. They’ll roll with Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington and fullback Jamize Olawale against the Bills, as they did against the Chiefs.

Lynch had two carries for nine yards before getting tossed. He has just 266 yards and two touchdowns on 72 carries through seven games.

If the suspension is upheld, Lynch will be eligible to return in Week 9 against Miami.