Sharks

Kurz's Instant Replay: Giants 7, D'backs 3

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Kurz's Instant Replay: Giants 7, D'backs 3

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO It was the final game of the regular season at AT&T Park, and not a very important one at that, as the Giants are likely locked into their postseason position.
Sure, San Francisco used a six-run second inning to defeat the Arizona Diamondbacks, 7-3, sending the 165th straight sellout crowd home happy. But whats more important, of course, is that there is more baseball to be played here.
In the meantime, the Giants completed their 10-game homestand with an impressive 8-2 mark, including winning two of three against Arizona. Overall at home, the Giants posted a 48-33 mark this season (.593).
Hunter Pence got the offense rolling with a two-run homer after a Buster Posey single led off the second inning. Later, a Hector Sanchez double plated Brandon Belt with no outs, while a passed ball by catcher Miguel Montero allowed Sanchez to score.
Marco Scutaro capped the inning with the Giants second two-run home run in the inning, scoring pitcher Barry Zito. Sanchezs solo shot in the bottom of the eighth capped the scoring.
San Franciscos bullpen tossed three scoreless innings after Zito left in the sixth with a three-run lead. Overall, the Giants have won Zitos last 10 starts, the longest streak of its kind for the franchise since 1992 (Bill Swift -- 11 startswins).
Starting pitching report
Zitos performance wasnt exactly dominant, but the Giants starter went six innings while allowing three runs (all earned). He struck out three and walked three while throwing 102 pitches, 63 for strikes. After allowing a leadoff triple to start the game to A.J. Pollock, Zito got Aaron Hill and Justin Upton to pop out before a groundout to Paul Goldschmidt kept the game scoreless.
Arizona managed to cut into San Franciscos lead in the fourth off of Zito, when Chris Youngs RBI single plated Goldschmidt and Cody Ransom to make it 6-2.
All six Giants runs in the second inning were earned and charged to starter Patrick Corbin. The lefty lasted just three innings total, allowing seven hits, with no walks or strikeouts.
Bullpen report
George Kontos, Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo each tossed a scoreless inning after Zitos departure.
The Diamondbacks pen kept the Giants off of the board for more than four innings until Sanchezs two-out blast off of Brad Ziegler in the eighth.
At the plate
With his homer in the second, Scutaro increased his career-high hitting streak to 15 games, the longest active streak in the majors. It was Scutaros only hit of the afternoon, and hes 28-for-62 during the streak (.452 average).
Posey had two hits, but grounded into a 1-2-3 double play with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the seventh with a chance to break the game open.
Goldschmidt was 2-for-4 for Arizona, while Ransom was 1-for-2 with a pair of walks.
In the field
Getting a rare start in left field, Brandon Belt struggled with the glove. A one-out double by Jason Kubel was catchable by Belt, and in the sixth, Arizonas Jake Elmore smacked a liner to left that Belt appeared to lose in the sun. Ransom, who doubled to left just before Elmores at-bat, scored on the play.
Gregor Blanco made the defensive play of the game after Belt moved to first, with a sliding catch in foul territory in the ninth off of the bat of Adam Eaton.
Leading off the third inning, Posey appeared to lift a routine pop-up into short right field. Goldschmidt, Hill and Upton all converged on the ball, but it fell harmlessly between the three of them.
Up next
The Giants head to San Diego for a three-game series against the Padres beginning Friday night. Ryan Vogelsong goes again Andrew Werner in the first game, while Madison Bumgarner takes the hill against Eric Stults on Saturday. Bruce Bochy said before Thursdays game that he has yet to decide who will face Edinson Volquez on Sunday.
The Giants close out the season with three games in Los Angeles on Oct. 1-3.

Sharks should be thankful for these two players on Thanksgiving

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USATSI

Sharks should be thankful for these two players on Thanksgiving

The San Jose Sharks woke up this Thanksgiving and found themselves in a playoff spot, albeit barely. 

They hold the second and final wild card spot by the thinnest of margins, edging out the Colorado Avalanche not on points, games played, regulation and overtime wins, but a single goal in the goal differential column. 

As early as it is, it’s a critical time to be in playoff position. Since the NHL expanded to 30 teams in 2000, 79 percent of teams holding playoff spots on Thanksgiving made the postseason. 

If the Sharks avoid becoming a member of the dreaded 21 percent, they’ll have two players to thank, more than anyone else, for their good fortune: Logan Couture and Martin Jones. 

Couture, along with Joonas Donskoi, seems to be the only Shark unaffected by a team-wide scoring bug. Even as he’s cooled off slightly, his 11 goals are still tied for 10th-most in the league. 

He’s held a positive share of puck possession on the ice, despite starting the fourth-lowest percentage of his shifts in the offensive zone among Sharks forwards that have played at least 50 minutes this season, according to Corsica Hockey

Couture also leads the team in power play scoring with three goals, and is one of only three San Jose players that’s scored multiple times on the man advantage. It’s hard to imagine the league’s fourth-worst power play (15.1 percent) getting worse, but it undoubtedly would be without the 28-year-old.

While Couture has stood out among a hapless offense, Jones has led one of the league’s best defensive units. The Sharks are among the best teams at limiting shots and scoring chances across all situations, but Jones has not let them down. 

Although his .922 even-strength save percentage is 27th among 51 goalies that have played at least 200 minutes, San Jose’s given him a razor thin margin of error. He had the fifth-lowest goal support of any goalie entering last night, as statistician Darin Stephens noted, and his play has been good enough to keep the Sharks in games in spite of that. 

Jones has also led the way for the league’s best penalty kill, posting a .940 save percentage in shorthanded situations. That’s the best mark among goalies that have faced at least 80 shots on the penalty kill, according to Stephens.

The sustainability of Jones’ penalty kill dominance and Couture’s 20.8 shooting percentage is an open question, but their importance to the team early in the season cannot be overstated. They’ve helped keep the Sharks afloat, and in a playoff spot with history on their side at the critical Thanksgiving mark. 

The Sharks need to not only let them have extra helpings during their holiday feast, but find a way to give them more help on the ice too.

 

Jones strong in goal, contains Coyotes to snap Sharks' three-game skid

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USATSI

Jones strong in goal, contains Coyotes to snap Sharks' three-game skid

BOX SCORE

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Logan Couture scored another goal for San Jose but was happier to see the Sharks' top line get untracked.

"We've got to get those guys going to help us offensively," Couture said of teammates Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Timo Meier after the Sharks' 3-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday night. "We need them to produce."

Thornton opened the scoring for the Sharks, with Pavelski adding an assist, the pair's first points since November 8, a span of five games.

"I think with Timo with us last game it brought us a lot of energy and a lot of chances," said Thornton, who scored his first goal since October 26. "Me and Pavs really like playing with him."

Joel Ward added an empty-net goal with 47.8 to play for the Sharks, who snapped a three-game losing streak.

"We got enough offense to win," said Sharks coach Peter DeBoer. "That's all that matters. I thought we played a good road game. I don't care how it looks."

Brendan Perlini scored with 7:37 to go, ruining Sharks goalie Martin Jones' bid for his second shutout of the season. The Coyotes saw their season-high three-game winning streak snapped and lost for the eighth time in nine home games (1-7-1).

Jones finished with 26 saves.

"We defended really well," said Jones, who was tested seriously only twice in the first two periods. "The first 10 minutes they had a lot of jump and were buzzing around our zone, but after that not as much."

Coyotes goalie Antti Raanta left at 14:37 of the first period with an upper-body injury. Couture had collided with Raanta more than four minutes earlier, earning an interference penalty. Raanta skated to the bench during a stoppage in play and retreated to the locker room.

Scott Wedgewood took Raanta's place and was in net for only five seconds before the Sharks broke through. Wedgewood stopped Brent Burns' long shot from the top of the right circle even after it deflected off San Jose right wing Timo Meier. But the rebound kicked to the bottom of the right circle, where Thornton swept in and beat the goalie with a quick wrist shot.

"He (coach Rick Tocchet) looked at me and said go," Wedgewood. "I was like, alright. That's the tough part. Then shot, top, goal. That was tough."

San Jose made it 2-0 at 4:56 of the second, taking advantage of Arizona's inability to clear the zone while the Sharks were on a line change.

Justin Braun fought three Coyotes for the puck along the right boards before Joonas Donskoi swooped in, skated to the goal line then sent a pass across to Couture. Couture deked Wedgewood to the ice with a forehand fake, then scored on the backhand.

Perlini cut the lead to 2-1 when he redirected Derek Stepan's shot from the top of the right circle past Jones.

"We had some costly mistakes," Perlini said. "We got back within a goal but there were too many mistakes."

NOTES: Thornton has 22 goals and 83 points in 82 career games against Arizona. ... The Coyotes, who had played seven of their past eight on the road, opened a three-game homestand. ... Raanta made eight saves before leaving and has stopped 98 of the past 105 shots he's faced. ... Couture's goal was his first in five games.

UP NEXT:

Sharks: visit Las Vegas on Friday

Coyotes: host Los Angeles on Friday.