OAKLAND Tigers manager Jim Leyland has been around baseball long enough that nothing really rattles the 67-year-old skipper.Think Wednesday nights blown lead in the ninth inning against the As kept him up tossing and turning in his hotel bed? Not quite.I slept great last night, Leyland said a couple of hours before the decisive Game 5 at Oakland Coliseum.According to Leyland, the 4-3 loss in which his club held a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the ninth was a little easier to take in that his ballclub really didnt do anything wrong.I know this sounds crazy because we were all a little heartbroken, I wasnt really as upset as everybody else was last night, and Ill tell you why: We didnt walk them. We didnt hit a batter. We didnt make an error. We didnt throw the ball away or make a bad fundamental play. They beat us. They earned it. They hit the ball, and stroked the ball good off of Jose Valverde last night. Were we all a little heartbroken? Sure, but, you know what? They earned it.What may have also aided Leylands nocturnal success was the fact that hell be sending his ace, Justin Verlander, to the mound on full rest as his team tries to book a ticket to the American League Championship Series with a win against the As.Verlander pitched seven strong innings in the Tigers Game 1 victory, surrendering just one run while walking four and striking out 11.Leylands biggest concern when it comes to Verlander is that hed like to keep the star right-hander's pitch count down. Verlander threw 121 pitches in Game 1.Thats the one thing you worry about Verlander, its not so much that the A's are working the count, its that they foul pitches off, which gets his pitch count up sometimes, Leyland said. Thats what youve got to watch for tonight. I think the first inning will be a big inning for him to settle in with everything thats going on. I think hell be good no matter what, but I think the first inning will be a big inning.Leyland said he has access to his full pitching staff, including starter Doug Fister, if necessary. But his team will be in trouble if he has to go that route.This game will probably be decided with Verlander in the game. I dont have anybody better than him. If they get to him that much, well probably be in trouble.Hes confident that the Tigers will be able to put Wednesdays stunning loss behind them.You learn over the years, and I always use the expression, you cant chew yesterdays breakfast. Its over and they beat us, they earned it, they had a great celebration on the field. Game 5 is tonight, its going to be exciting, loud, and this is what we do for a living.
LAS VEGAS — Jonathan Marchessault took a pass from Shea Theodore and poked the game-winning goal past Aaron Dell to give the Vegas Golden Knights a 5-4 overtime victory over the San Jose Sharks on Friday.
William Karlsson scored two goals for Vegas, and Shea Theodore and James Neal had a goal apiece.
The Sharks came into the game with the fourth-worst goals per game average (2.45) but got goals from Brent Burns, Chris Tierney and Mikkel Boedker in the second period to tie the game at 4.
San Jose had a goal reversed early in the third period when Joonas Donskoi's skate collided with goalie Malcolm Subban's skate in the crease.
Subban started the third period, replacing Vegas starter Maxime Lagace, who stopped 19 of the 23 shots he saw in the first two periods.
Theodore opened the scoring with his first goal of the season less than three minutes into the game, when his wrist shot beat Martin Jones on the glove side.
Neal made it 2-0 with his 12th goal of the season, a wrist shot that tethered the upper corner on Jones' blocker side.
Tomas Hertl cut Vegas' lead in half when he found Joonas Donskoi's backhand pass through Theodore's legs and stuffed it past Lagace.
Karlsson chased Jones 10 seconds into in the second period with his 11th goal of the season, and then welcomed Dell to the game with his 12th of the campaign.
Jones stopped 11 shots, while Dell stopped 17 of 19.
Subban stopped all three shots he saw.
Vegas W David Perron left the game with an undisclosed injury and did not return. ... Golden Knights C Cody Eakin played in his 400th career game. ... Burns played in his 900th career game. ... Joel Ward's two assists gave him 300 career points. ... With his goal in the second period, Boedker is now three goals away from 100 in his career. ... Comedian Brad Garrett attended the game.
San Jose: Hosts Winnipeg on Saturday.
Vegas: Plays at Arizona on Saturday.
Once they entered the league, many joked that the Vegas Golden Knights would have the best home-ice advantage in the league.
Sure, the novelty of a new team would get fans excited, but it was the team’s presence on the Las Vegas Strip that would give the expansion team an edge. After all, they call it “Sin City” for a reason, and it’s not for the ride in.
Nobody could have expected them to be this good at home.
The Golden Knights are 8-1-0 at T-Mobile Arena, and have the league’s highest winning percentage at home. They’ve outscored opponents by 18 goals, and their 4.33 goals per home game is the third-best mark in the entire league.
The Sharks will thus face their toughest road test of the season on Friday night, in a game that they’re almost designed to lose. Early afternoon games mean there’s no morning skate, but an early afternoon game the day after Thanksgiving? In Las Vegas?
Blackjack players have better luck hitting on 20.
In fact, Vegas’ home slate is littered with early starts: 12 of their 41 home games occur before the traditional 7-or-7:30 p.m. slot. Some of that is undoubtedly due to travel, of course, as the Sharks will play on the first night of a back-to-back on Friday.
But the effect is nonetheless apparent: T-Mobile Arena has become a fortress.
The same can be said about any number of arenas in cities known for their nightlife, such as the Miami Heat’s home at American Airlines Arena, located less than 10 miles from South Beach. Vegas is another matter entirely.
It doesn’t help that the Golden Knights have, home ice advantage aside, played like a playoff team. Adjusting for score effects and venue, Vegas ranks 13th and ninth, respectively, in the two major puck possession metrics: corsi-for percentage (shot attempts) and fenwick-for percentage (unblocked shot attempts).
They’ve also had luck that gamblers on the strip would envy, thriving despite being down to fourth-string goaltender Maxime Lagace because of injuries to the goalies ahead of him. Vegas has played extremely well in front of him in spite of that, and have won three straight since getting shellacked in Edmonton 10 days ago.
In spite of almost every piece of available logic heading into the season, the Vegas Golden Knights are good. Almost every piece, of course, because their home-ice advantage is simultaneously the most logical thing in the world.
In Las Vegas, it usually doesn’t pay to bet against the house.