Warriors

Sharks power past Caps with two goals in third

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Sharks power past Caps with two goals in third

Feb. 17, 2011

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SAN JOSE (AP) Even though Dan Boyle took the shot on what proved to be the game-winning goal for San Jose he didn't even get credit for an assist after the puck ricocheted off four sticks before making its way into the net.Boyle's point shot deflected off a defender and two teammates before Dany Heatley got the final tip on the power-play goal that helped the Sharks beat Washington 3-2 Thursday night for their 14th win in their last 15 meetings with the Capitals.Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton ended up with the assists on the play after the puck glanced off their sticks before getting to Heatley, costing Boyle a point on the stat sheet but helping the Sharks get two needed points in the standings."Unbelievable, those three guys," Boyle said. "It is what it is, a win. A bunch of greasy forwards we got."RATTO: San Jose GreasyUglies do it againPavelski scored a short-handed goal, Ryane Clowe added a score in the third period and Antti Niemi made 23 saves for the Sharks, who followed up last week's 2-0 win at Washington with another victory over the Capitals.
The Sharks' 11th win in their past 14 games helped move them into a tie for fourth place in the jam-packed Western Conference playoff race. With only three points separating the third and ninth-place teams, San Jose is far from comfortable with 23 games remaining.
RELATED: NHL standings
"Everyone realizes the standings and how tight the West is," Pavelski said. "Every game has a playoff atmosphere. We're trying to get there and you think you make up a little ground but you really don't make any."Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom scored for the Capitals, who have lost four of five. One night after breaking out offensively in a 7-6 win at Anaheim, Washington once again struggled to score and now has 10 losses and one tie in its last 11 trips to San Jose. The Capitals have five goals in their past four losses.
REWIND: Caps out-rally Ducks 7-6
For the second time in just more than a week, these teams went into the third period tied only to have the Sharks come up with the big plays for the win."We came out really strong and then we tapered off," defenseman John Carlson said. "We just have to be dominant all game long, we just can't get let off the gas. This would have been a big two points for us if we had won."Kyle Wellwood got the third period started for the Sharks when he fired a puck from the boards to the front of the crease. Clowe knocked it down with his stick and then backhanded the puck past a sprawling Michal Neuvirth for his 15th goal to give the Sharks a 2-1 lead 4:27 into the final period.Then came the deflection by Heatley that ended a string of 12 straight failed power plays for the Sharks, who had gone five straight games without scoring with the man advantage."That's the way our power play hasn't scored as many goals," Pavelski said. "It was big for us tonight. It was just a flutter but we had traffic there. That was the biggest thing."VIDEO: Joe Pavelski postgame
The Capitals got one goal back when Backstrom scored with 1:55 remaining, but could not get the equalizer.The Sharks returned home from a two-week road swing in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race after winning five of seven games on the trip. This began a stretch of 15 home games in the final 24 contests, which normally would be a good omen except for the fact that San Jose had won only half its home games heading into this contest.
VIDEO: Three stars
There were only a few scoring chances in the first two periods, with the only goals coming 22 seconds apart on the same power play in the closing minutes of the first period.Just 9 seconds after Ben Eager was sent off for tripping Ovechkin in the offensive zone, Carlson lost the puck at the point for Washington. Patrick Marleau came up with it and fed the puck to Pavelski, who fired a hard shot past Neuvirth for the first goal of the game.The Capitals responded almost immediately when Ovechkin beat Niemi with a wrist shot from the top of the circles for his 23rd goal that tied it with 48.6 seconds left in the first period.
COHN: What's wrong with Ovechkin?
"Ovey looks like the old Ovey now," Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I hadn't been able to say that but in recent games he has been, so let's hope he continues. The energy he's playing with, he's coming back hard and he's not staying upright and his shifts were short. And all those things encompass a good leader. That's what he was doing."Notes: Sharks D Marc-Edouard Vlasic left in the first period with an upper-body injury. ... Washington star D Mike Green missed his third straight game with an apparent head injury. ... The Sharks placed G Antero Niittymaki on injured reserve and called up forward Tommy Wingels and D Nick Petrecki from Worcester.
RELATED: Sharks place Niittymaki on IR, recall two

With lofty win total unlikely this year, here's a number the Warriors can chase

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AP

With lofty win total unlikely this year, here's a number the Warriors can chase

OAKLAND -- Getting to 73 wins is impossible for the Warriors, and the pursuit of it never entered their minds.

Reaching 69 wins, their average in three seasons under coach Steve Kerr, is highly improbable.

Even winning 67 games, the lowest total under Kerr, is extremely unlikely.

There is, however, a number the Warriors are aiming for that also happens to be within their grasp -- but only if they can fight through the regular-season malaise and break an unhealthy tendency.

They can get to 35 victories at Oracle Arena. Currently 16-6 at home, the Warriors would have to go 19-0 to reach 35, and it’s possible insofar as they are less than two years removed from posting an NBA-record 54 consecutive wins at home.

Can a team that once went 14 months without losing at Oracle summon a three-month stretch of perfection at home?

The schedule invites the possibility, but it’s still up to the Warriors and how they cope with tug of three long seasons and that tendency to float a bit in front of their home fans, two factors that have had more effect at home than on the road.

“In general, the appropriate fear we always talk about, it’s there on the road for most games and it’s not there as much at home,” Kerr conceded Monday.

Kevin Durant used different phrasing but echoed the comments of the coach.

“You tend to relax a bit when you’re at home because you’ve got your home crowd,” he acknowledged. “You’re just comfortable in that situation. You can go home and go to sleep in your own bed after the game. So you relax a bit.

“On the road, it just feels like this is the last game of your career. It just feels that way, especially when you’re playing a tough opponent and somewhere with a crowd that’s going to be really, really into it.”

Having gone 39-2, 39-2 and 36-5 over the last three seasons, the Warriors are assured of having their worst home record under Kerr. Still, 35 is not impossible.

The drop is not unanticipated, as Kerr experienced something similar as a member of the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s, when they won three straight championships as their regular-season wins steadily dropped, from 72 to 69 to 62.

“Where it has truly been the most tangible and palpable is home games against lesser opponents,” Kerr said. “We’ve lost six. Maybe two of those are playoff teams.

“We didn’t lose those games the last the last three years. We dominated the home floor. That’s where it really shows.”

The Warriors have lost at home to the Rockets, Pistons, Kings, Nuggets, Hornets and Clippers. Only Houston is a playoff lock. Detroit, Denver and the Clippers are on the fringe of the postseason race. Charlotte is a longshot, Sacramento a no-shot.

The Warriors, in every home loss, have started drowsily or played too carelessly or were self-destructive enough to give back a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter.

“This is the first year in my four years where we’ve lost a lot of home games that we shouldn’t,” Kerr said. “That just points to emotional fatigue. Trying to get up for 82 games is a difficult thing, especially in Year 4 of a quest to get back to The Finals.”

Coming off a successful road trip during which they won four of five games, the Warriors this week face the Knicks, Timberwolves and Celtics -- the latter two being playoff locks.

A home sweep is difficult, of course, but hardly inconceivable. And if the Warriors can pull that off, they’d have only four remaining home games against teams fighting for a top-four playoff slot: the Thunder and Spurs twice each.

Oklahoma City appears to be getting their act together. The Spurs, while still formidable, are starting to look like a team in decline.

They’re also the two teams most likely to get the full attention of the Warriors, who began the week by sitting through video of their last three games, during which they committed numerous hideous errors.

The message: Their unforced mistakes are the surest route to defeat.

“There are key points of the year where we have to hit the reset button in terms of our priorities,” Kerr said. “Right now is one of those times. This is an important week for us. We need to take care of the ball. We need to be smart and make good decisions. If we do that, we’re really, really hard to beat.”

Carr excited to work with Gruden: 'I want him to be tough on me'

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AP

Carr excited to work with Gruden: 'I want him to be tough on me'

Jon Gruden has been interviewed several times since becoming Raiders head coach. Quarterback Derek Carr hasn’t listened to most of those sessions, and certainly doesn’t seek them out.

One landed in Carr’s inbox recently, and something Gruden said really resonated.

Gruden’s message, paraphrased: If Derek Carr is not successful, then I’ve failed as a coach.

There are two comments in that one. Gruden considers Carr extremely talented, and he’s taking responsibility for unlocking the quarterback's vast potential.

Gruden will be hands on in Carr’s development, with all the coaching intensity and fire and eyebrow raises that have become Gruden’s signature.

“He’s going to demand of me. He’s going to push me,” Carr said on this week’s episode of the Raiders Insider Podcast, which will drop Tuesday morning (Subcribe right here). “He’s going to make me be the best version of myself.”

Carr had a direct answer to skeptics wondering aloud whether he can thrive under Gruden’s particular coaching style.

“I want him to be tough on me,” Carr said. “For anyone who thinks I want him to be a different way has no clue about me or how I play football or how I prepare to play this game. I don’t need to tell stories about how I prepare or manage myself.

“(Jon) and I are going to get along great. I hope that he demands of me. I hope he’s hard on me. I don’t need to know he loves me. He has already told me that about 20 times. I appreciate that and we’ll be friends forever, but I know he’ll be demanding and tell me what I need to do. Let’s go fix problems that I have and let’s do what I need to do to win championships. Hopefully that will give people some insight and hopefully that’s the story that gets out, because that’s the truth.”

Carr met his new head coach briefly before his introductory press conference, but has known Gruden since filming the Gruden QB Camp segment back in 2014. They got along great then, and in each interaction since.

“We have so much more in common that people realize,” Carr said. “I think it would blow some people’s minds. Him and I are very similar in the way we go about our business and how we carry ourselves. It’s an exciting time.”

Carr’s excited to have some stability in his football life. The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback will start his fifth NFL season with his fourth head coach, fourth go-round with an offensive coordinator and third offensive scheme. Gruden signed a 10-year contract. OC Greg Olson signed a four-year pact. They’ll be here a while, and Carr’s excited about that.

“It’s going to be really nice,” Carr said. “To know Jon signed on for a 10 years and (Olson) signed on for a long time shows me a couple of things. No. 1: that they believe in me. I don’t think Coach Gruden would’ve quit his day job, which I’m thankful he did. To get (Olson) out of a good spot in L.A (with the Rams), shows that they believe in me and that’s awesome. And, No. 2: I’m going to have two people I can talk to in a different language for years to come. We can grow within the relationship, and hopefully we’ll all ride off together. It’s set up that way right now, and we have a lot of work to do to reach that point.”