Sharks survive, clip Wings in thrilling Game 7


Sharks survive, clip Wings in thrilling Game 7

May 12, 2011


SAN JOSE (AP) For all the blame Patrick Marleau has shouldered for past postseason failures by San Jose, it was only fitting that his winning goal helped the Sharks avoid their biggest collapse yet.Marleau got his first point of the series when he knocked home a rebound with 7:47 to play and then made the key defensive play in the closing seconds as the Sharks managed to knock out the Detroit Red Wings on their fourth try with a 3-2 victory Thursday night in Game 7 of their Western Conference semifinal series."For him to end up with the winning goal was pretty special for our team and for him," coach Todd McLellan said. "I think the monkey may be off his back for the next series. ... He was a difference maker tonight."
RATTO: Marleau saves impact for Game 7 winDevin Setoguchi and Logan Couture scored in the first period and Antti Niemi made 38 saves for the Sharks, who had lost three straight potential clinching games before eliminating the Red Wings for the second straight year in the second round.San Jose avoided becoming the fourth NHL team to lose a series after winning the first three games. A franchise known for its playoff flops avoided a colossal one and now heads into its second straight Western Conference final."There's a lot of doubters who said we probably couldn't do this," captain Joe Thornton said. "But that's two years in a row we beat a pretty good team. We're a pretty good team now, too."
VIDEO: Joe Thornton postgame
The Sharks get two days off before beginning the conference final Sunday in Vancouver against the Canucks, who also won a Game 7 after blowing a 3-0 lead in the first round against defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago.
Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg scored for the Red Wings, who fought valiantly to the end but were unable to complete their bid for an historic feat. Detroit furiously pushed for the tying goal in the frantic final minutes, but couldn't beat Niemi again - even after getting a late power-play chance."It's not easy being down 3-0 and having to win four games," Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "I felt like we had the upper hand. But you never knew the outcome of any game until the end. At the end, it's still disappointing to win three games and come back here with a chance to win or tie it in the final minutes and then fall short."The 41-year-old defenseman, who has won four Stanley Cup titles with Detroit, must decide if he wants to come back for a 20th NHL season.
RELATED: Sharks-Canucks Playoff Schedule"I'm going to take my time before making a decision," Lidstrom said. "We'll have our meetings and go from there. I'm going to take the whole year into account. I'll take about as much time as last year. I'll meet with the coaching staff. It's been tough the last couple of years."The much-maligned Marleau, who was called "gutless" by former teammate Jeremy Roenick after Game 5, gave the Sharks the breathing room when he poked a rebound of Setoguchi's shot into an empty net behind Jimmy Howard to give San Jose a 3-1 lead.But as tough as it was to eliminate the Red Wings in the series, it was just that hard to close out this game. Datsyuk beat Niemi with a great individual effort to make it a one-goal game with 6:01 remaining. The Sharks had to kill off a power play, when Torrey Mitchell was called for slashing with 5:03 left, to preserve the lead. Niemi then made a stop on a tricky shot by Datsyuk in the final minute.After a scramble in front of the net, Marleau broke up a scoring chance for Patrick Eaves and then got the final clear, sending the fans into delirium and giving the Sharks their first sense of relief as the clock ran out."It was just nice to have it over and have us on top," Marleau said. "They played great the whole way through. It was just nice to be able to shake hands and come back in here."The Red Wings fell behind 2-0 in the first period but that deficit surely wasn't daunting to a team that overcame a 3-0 hole in the series to force this Game 7.Detroit dominated the second period despite finishing it without three of its top forwards, with Johan Franzen missing the game with an ankle injury, Todd Bertuzzi getting knocked out in the first period with an upper body injury, and Danny Cleary getting helped to the locker room after appearing to hit his head on the ice after a collision with teammate Jiri Hudler."That's a huge chunk of team that was missing," coach Mike Babcock said. "We would love having some more minutes out of those guys."The Red Wings outshot the Sharks 17-6 in the period but managed to get only one puck past Niemi, who made tough saves on Niklas Kronwall and Cleary in the first half of the period.Zetterberg got Detroit on the board when he beat Niemi with a backhand at the end of a three-on-two rush with 6:50 left in the second. The Red Wings kept the pressure up the rest of the way as the Sharks looked desperate for the period to end, icing the puck five times.Detroit got the final 10 shots in the period as the Sharks couldn't manage even to get one after Setoguchi's attempt with 7:48 to go. But Niemi was able to preserve the lead heading into the third, robbing Zetterberg with his glove late in the period."We had to get it done, especially in the playoffs," Zetterberg said. "We should have created a few more chances."The crowd was frenzied at the start for what was being billed by many as the biggest game ever at the Shark Tank, cheering "Beat De-troit! Beat De-troit!" That energy from the fans was matched by the Sharks, who were thoroughly outplayed in their Game 6 loss in Detroit two nights earlier.They scored on a power play midway through the period when Thornton threaded a perfect pass from behind the net to Setoguchi, who beat Howard with a one-timer for his fifth goal of the series. Then after killing off two Detroit power plays, San Jose got a second goal when Couture stole an outlet pass from Zetterberg, and in the same motion beat Howard with a wrist shot from the faceoff circle with 59 seconds left in the period.Notes: San Jose F Ryane Clowe returned to the lineup after missing Game 6 with an upper body injury. ... Kris Draper replaced Franzen in the lineup. Draper scored a goal in the only previous Game 7 between these teams, a game the Sharks won 3-2 in 1994.

Will it work? A look at some NBA free agent deals of note

Will it work? A look at some NBA free agent deals of note

MIAMI -- Out of the nearly $4 billion worth of new contracts that were signed this offseason, some of them seem fairly certain to benefit the team that's laying out the money.

Kevin Durant, he makes Golden State even better.

LeBron James, he's worth every penny to Cleveland.

Not every deal is a lock to work, and here's a look at 10 contracts that were executed in recent months where it could be argued there's a fair amount of risk involved.



Left: Atlanta

Signed with: Boston, 4 years, $113 million

Horford has never averaged 20 points, but he'll now average more than $26 million in salary. The Celtics have raved about this move since they got it done this summer, and Horford knows that with this kind of salary comes enormous responsibility - especially in Boston, where fans are starved for a return to the NBA's elite level.

Outlook: It only works if Horford delivers a title.



Stayed with Miami, 4 years, $98 million

He made $980,000 last season and is now assured of making 100 times that much over the next four years. The question with Whiteside throughout the will-they-or-won't-they decision process in Miami was whether he could be trusted with that kind of money. The Heat not only believe it, but ultimately they wound up needing Whiteside because of the Chris Bosh saga.

Outlook: He has a skillset like few others in the game, and $98 million was what the market bore.



Left: Golden State

Signed with: Dallas, 4 years, $94 million

Dallas missed on a number of big free-agent targets in recent years, then wound up taking Barnes this summer. There was no room left for Barnes in Golden State, and he parlayed passing on a $64 million deal in 2015 into one worth much more now. It's still Dirk Nowitzki's team and will stay that way, but Barnes will have to play at a very high level to make this seem like a win.

Outlook: He struggled in the preseason, and the money will bring big pressure. He will have show he can handle that pressure.



Left: Chicago

Signed with: New York, 4 years, $73 million

He played in only 29 games last season, had no rhythm on the floor and couldn't shoot. A change of scenery might help, but he turns 32 in February. His best game last season was 21 points and 10 rebounds - against the Knicks, which explain why they came running with checkbook wide open.

Outlook: The Knicks aren't worried about the money. They need to worry about his durability.



Left: Miami

Signed with: Los Angeles Lakers, 4 years, $72 million

When Deng came to Miami two years ago there were questions about how much more he had left in the tank. But Deng had consecutive good seasons with the Heat, and even flourished when he got moved to power forward last February when Miami lost Chris Bosh again. He can still play, and more importantly to the Lakers, he can lead.

Outlook: A young core can learn plenty from Deng, which makes that deal money well spent.



Left: Toronto

Signed with: Orlando, 4 years, $72 million

He's coming off a career year, so that's good. Alas, that career year was him scoring 5.5 points per game. He doesn't have an outside game, isn't good from the foul line and isn't exactly a dominating shot-blocker. But he can rebound, and his big games in last season's playoffs - eight double-digit board games, including a 26-rebound night against Cleveland in the East finals - revealed all his potential.

Outlook: Orlando had the money, and knows it wasn't getting a 20-10 guy. But he'll need to do more to make it all worthwhile.



Left: Houston

Signed with: Atlanta, 3 years, $70.5 million

Howard essentially replaces Al Horford and gets to go home to Atlanta. The Hawks are good but not great, and really, the same can be said about Howard now. A look at the scoring numbers - 13.7 points per game last season - suggests a decline, but that was moreso based on him taking fewer shots than at any point in the last decade.

Outlook: Losing Horford meant Atlanta had to do something, and playing in his hometown could invigorate the sometimes-enigmatic Howard.



Left: Miami

Signed with: Chicago, 2 years, $47 million

Wade cherished Miami and Miami cherished Wade. But years and years of little problems eventually turned into a mess that couldn't be solved, and Wade went to his hometown in one of the more surprising moves of the summer. He turns 35 this season and has been hearing the he's-in-decline argument for years. But he keeps silencing doubters, and has plenty of motivation.

Outlook: His jersey will sell, he'll excite the Chicago fan base and he'll probably coax more out of Jimmy Butler. Hall of Famers are worth the cash.



Left: Chicago

Signed with: San Antonio, 2 years, $32 million

The Spurs love international players, love players who can do multiple things well and love players who understand that a perfect pass means more than any highlight. It's almost like Gasol is a perfect fit, especially now that San Antonio has lost the retired Tim Duncan. (And at 36, he makes the Spurs younger.) Gasol is still a double-double machine and fantastic from the foul line.

Outlook: There's 50 or so players making more than Gasol this season. There aren't 50 better players. Spurs got a steal.



Left: Los Angeles Lakers

Signed with: Charlotte, 1 year, $5 million

Hibbert's game vanished last season, and there were 27 games in which he had at least as many fouls as he did points. But the Hornets realized they needed some help up front, and at 7-foot-2 Hibbert at least provides an imposing frame. Being on a third team in as many seasons isn't ideal, but here's why this one might work - Charlotte's associate head coach under Steve Clifford is a Georgetown guy like Hibbert, named Patrick Ewing.

Outlook: Ewing gets a project, one that comes a low financial risk for Michael Jordan's club.

Silver says NBA labor deal not done yet, but getting close

Silver says NBA labor deal not done yet, but getting close

NEW YORK -- This season hasn't started and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver already has good news about next season.

It appears there's no chance it will be affected by a work stoppage.

Silver said Friday the league and players have made "tremendous progress" toward an extension of the collective bargaining agreement, saying he hoped a deal would be completed soon.

"We are not done, done as we say as bargainers in terms of ultimately having a completed collective bargaining agreement, but we're on our way towards getting an extension done of this collective bargaining agreement," Silver said. "I'm very pleased to report that."

Silver said the process was far different than the contentious negotiations of 2011, which led to a lockout and a 2011-12 season that was shortened to 66 games.

This time, the sides have been meeting for a few months and seem eager to make a deal long before Dec. 15, when either side can notify the other of its intention to opt out of the 10-year pact, which expires in June 2021.

If either side chooses to opt out, the deal would end on June 30, 2017.

The sides met Wednesday, the day before owners began their two-day preseason meetings. They received an encouraging report on the status of the talks.

"We've made tremendous progress and I'm pleased to report that," Silver said.

An agreement wasn't reached in 2011 until Thanksgiving weekend, and 16 games from each team's schedule had been shaved before the season opened on Christmas. The players' guarantee of basketball-related income was reduced from 57 percent to about 50 percent.

The sides aren't fighting over money this time, not after the national TV deals worth more than $2.6 billion annually sent revenues soaring and the salary cap skyrocketing.

Silver credited union executive director Michele Roberts for the more cordial tone of these talks and noted the role on the negotiating committee of Hall of Fame player Michael Jordan, now owner of the Charlotte Hornets. Silver said Jordan's relationship with players has "added an enormous amount to the atmosphere in the room."

"For players to see him in that position, it doesn't mean if Michael says it, it necessarily means that they should accept it as the position they should take," Silver said, "but I think that's really added a special element unique to this league to have a superstar player like that owning a team now."

Longtime Commissioner David Stern led owners and former NBPA executive director Billy Hunter represented players in the last few negotiations, and the league lost games in both 1998-99 and 2011-12. Silver said both sides feel that the most recent deal has been working.

"I think the fortunes of the league, the fact that there is more money to distribute among our players and teams, has created an atmosphere that makes it more conducive to continue a deal that looks a lot like the current deal," Silver said.

And because they are working to extend it, rather than negotiate a new one, Silver said there would be more tweaks than wholesale changes.

Silver and Roberts appear to have developed a stronger working relationship than their predecessors, and players have long looked up to Jordan for what he accomplished on and off the court.

All-Stars Chris Paul, the union president who took part in this week's meeting, and vice presidents LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony are among the players thinking business as well as basketball.

"I'll say that when you have someone like Michael Jordan now on the owners' side of the table, we all remember the old slogan from when Michael was a player of 'Be like Mike.' I think there's the sense now for the players that that's yet another area where they want to be like Mike," Silver said. "Look what he's done, taking sort of his success on the floor and translated that into being an incredibly successful businessman."

Silver didn't want to comment on specifics of the deal since it had not been completed, though it's expected to include new league-funded programs to help retired players with education and medical expenses, and an increase in the rookie salary scale.

But he's optimistic he'll be able to discuss them soon.

"Hopefully, we will be back to all of you in the not-too-distant future to say that negotiations have been completed, but we're not quite there yet," he said.