League-leading Canucks visit red-hot Sharks

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League-leading Canucks visit red-hot Sharks

March 10, 2011

VANCOUVER (43-16-9) vs.
SHARKS (39-22-6)

Coverage begins at 7 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet California

SAN JOSE (AP) -- The San Jose Sharks are one of the hottest teams in the NHL with nine wins in 10 games while the Vancouver Canucks have been perfect on their five-game trip.

One of these division leaders will have its momentum slowed Thursday night as the teams meet for the final time unless they square off in the playoffs.

San Jose (39-22-6) has used its surge to open a lead atop the Pacific Division and move away from a pack of playoff contenders in the tightly packed Western Conference.

Patrick Marleau's overtime goal gave the Sharks a 3-2 win at Nashville on Tuesday. Eleven of their last 13 games have been decided by one goal.

REWIND: Marleau's OT goal gives Sharks win over Preds

"With the race so close, you can't slide a couple games," Marleau said. "It's even hard to give up one game, two points in this race."

Vancouver (43-16-9) has the most points in the NHL with 95 and appears to have gotten back on track on this road trip. The Canucks have won the first three of this five-game trip after alternating wins and losses during a 12-game stretch.

"We've been finding different ways to win so far on this road trip, which is nice," goalie Roberto Luongo said. "We've been playing some solid hockey, I think, not giving up too much and getting timely goals, which is very important at this stage of the season."
NEWS: Boyle out, Canucks to start Schneider in goal?

The Sedin twins have combined for 10 points on this trip, including six in Tuesday's 4-3 overtime victory at Phoenix. Both assisted on Dan Hamhuis' game-winner.

Each brother enters with six points during a five-game streak against San Jose. The Sedins have totaled seven points in three meetings this season, with Vancouver going 2-0-1.

Daniel Sedin leads the NHL with 84 points and Henrik Sedin has 79.

Vancouver allowed a rare power-play goal Tuesday, the fifth in its opponents' last 73 chances. The Canucks' penalty kill is the best in the West at 86.4 percent.

The Sharks went 1 for 2 on the power play Tuesday after a 1-for-12 slump over their previous four games. Coach Todd McLellan made changes, with Devin Setoguchi moving to the top line with Marleau and Joe Thornton while having Dany Heatley join Logan Couture and Ryane Clowe.

McLellan would not commit to the changes going forward.

"We'll see," he said. "We know we have the ability to move people around. And we'll continue to do that as need be."

Marleau has scored in the last three games for San Jose. He did not take a shot Tuesday until his game-winner.

"That's what Patty does," McLellan said. "He's leading us in goals now and he's scored some big ones down the stretch."

Antti Niemi is 9-1-0 with a 1.74 goals-against average in his last 10 starts. He's got a 3.60 GAA in the three games against Vancouver this season.

RELATED: Niittymaki returns to practice

Luongo has a 0.96 GAA in two starts against the Sharks this season, but he's 0-2-1 with a 2.63 GAA in his last three at HP Pavilion.

Backup Cory Schneider, who recorded his first career shutout with 26 saves in Sunday's 3-0 victory at Anaheim, is 1-1-0 with a 5.99 GAA in two career starts against San Jose.

Report: Yanks, Chapman reach deal; breaks Melancon’s record

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USATSI

Report: Yanks, Chapman reach deal; breaks Melancon’s record

OXON HILL, Md. -- A person familiar with the deal tells The Associated Press that free agent closer Aroldis Chapman and the New York Yankees have reached agreement on an $86 million, five-year deal.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity Wednesday night because the contract was still pending a physical.

Chapman was acquired by New York from the Cincinnati Reds last offseason, then was traded to the Chicago Cubs in late July. The hard-throwing lefty helped the Cubs win the World Series and became a free agent when it was over.

Fox Sports first reported the agreement.

Instant Replay: Kings crush depleted Mavs, snap skid

Instant Replay: Kings crush depleted Mavs, snap skid

BOX SCORE

The losing streak is no more. After dropping three straight on the road, the Sacramento Kings took down an injury-riddled Dallas Mavericks team Wednesday night, coming away with the 120-89 victory to improve to 8-13 on the season.

Rudy Gay aggressively attacked the depleted Mavericks frontline. The veteran wing finished the night with 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting and grabbed four steals.

With Gay putting up big numbers, DeMarcus Cousins went into the post and cleaned the glass. The Mavericks double-teamed the Kings’ star center for much of the night and he found open shooters and cutters exploding to the hoop. The two-time All-Star posted 24 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists in the win.

Darren Collison got it going early, scoring eight of his 19 points in the first quarter. The speedy point guard shot 5-for-10 from the field and handed out three assists.

Garrett Temple and Omri Casspi led a strong effort from the second unit. Temple dropped in 17 points in 26 minutes of action off Dave Joerger’s bench, including a perfect 4-of-4 from behind the arc, and Casspi added in 10 points on 5-for-7 shooting.

After starting 18 of Sacramento’s first 20 games, Arron Afflalo received the dreaded DNP-CD as Joerger went with Ben McLemore as the starter alongside Collison in the backcourt and came away with nine points.

Deron Williams got it going in the second half, scoring 20 points on 6-of-8 shooting. The veteran point guard dished out six assists, but turned the ball over four times in the loss.

Wes Matthews turned down an opportunity to join the Kings two summers ago. On Wednesday in Dallas, he blasted Sacramento from long range early, finishing with 16 points on 6-for-10 shooting from deep.

Harrison Barnes added 11 on 5-for-16 shooting.

STANDOUT PERFORMER:
Gay dominated the action. He had a bounce in his step and helped hold Harrison Barnes in check all night.

TURNING POINT:
Sacramento used an 11-0 run in the third quarter to build a 15-point lead and put Dallas away early. The Kings outscored the Mavs 29-12 in the third to take a 85-64 lead into the fourth.

INJURY UPDATE:
The Kings return home with 12 healthy roster players and another three rookies hanging out in Reno with the Bighorns.

WHAT'S NEXT:
After nearly two weeks away, the Kings come home to face the New York Knicks Friday night at Golden 1 Center.