Sharks survive, oust Kings on Thornton's OT goal


Sharks survive, oust Kings on Thornton's OT goal

April 25, 2011


LOS ANGELES (CSNAP) -- Joe Thornton knew exactly where he wanted to be as soon as the Sharks killed off a 5-minute major penalty that had continued into overtime. He got himself in front of the net.His instinct proved right, and he scored 2:22 into the extra session Monday night to give San Jose a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings and send the Sharks to a first-round series win."You've seen this whole series, weird things happen in front of the net. It just spit out nicely and I just gobbled it up," Thornton said. "I was just in the right place at the right time. It felt great."Kyle Wellwood, Jason Demers and Dany Heatley also scored for the Sharks, who wrapped up the all-California series in six games by winning all three OT games.."It's a good feeling and it's nice we don't have to play Wednesday night, we can rest," Thornton said. "But we still have a lot of work to do -- it was a tough series for us."
Justin Williams, Ryan Smyth and rookie Trevor Lewis scored for the Kings, who lost in the opening round for the second straight year and have won just one playoff series since their run to the 1993 Stanley Cup finals with Wayne Gretzky."To go out in the first round is really disappointing," defenseman Jack Johnson said.Gretzky attended the game, but even having the retired superstar on hand couldn't boost the Kings to a needed victory. Instead, they ended up losing all three home games in the series and all three overtime games - just like in the '93 finals when Los Angeles lost three straight OT games to Montreal."We had a 4-0 lead at home in Game 3 and two other OT games and were right there," forward Dustin Brown said. "The difference between winning and losing is that small. They found ways to get goals in OT and we didn't."Antti Niemi made 26 saves for the Sharks after being pulled in two of the last three games."We had the lead three times, but they kept coming back on us," Heatley said. "That 5-minute penalty kill was huge for us. That's sometimes how hockey works, you do a good job like that and you get rewarded at the end."Jonathan Quick stopped 31 shots for Los Angeles. He gave up 16 goals in the team's three home games."We fully believe we could have won it. That's why we're so disappointed," defenseman Drew Doughty said.The Sharks' Jamie McGinn received a 5-minute major for charging Brad Richardson and an automatic game misconduct at 16:37 of the third period, giving the Kings a power play for the final minutes of regulation."We don't do anything easy," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said.The Kings had four shots on goal, including two by Brown, that Niemi stopped to send the game into overtime for the third time in the series."Once we killed that off, we thought we had a good chance and we'll get the momentum after killing that," Thornton said. "We did, and we ended up winning the series after that."The Kings opened overtime with 1:37 left on McGinn's penalty, but they didn't manage a shot on goal."We didn't get a lot of opportunities," Johnson said. "They were very aggressive, which forced us to make plays a little quicker than we wanted to."It wasn't long after that Thornton found the left side of the net open and scored the winning goal, sending him sliding on the ice in celebration."It hit a skate and bounced off his tape and I got caught out of position," a dejected Quick said. "If we played a little better, we could've gone longer. We feel like we gave them a few games earlier in the series."The Kings rallied a third time to tie the game at 3-3 in the third period. Lewis scored the first playoff goal of his career on a power-play rebound at 11:39 with Demers off for interference.Heatley's goal off the right post on a broken play by the Kings gave San Jose its third lead of the game, 3-2 at 8:48 of the third period.
"It was great to see the big guy get the goal," Heatley said of Thornton's game-winner. "It was nice."The Kings tied the game 2-2 on Smyth's rebound goal 18 seconds into the third period.Demers caught Quick out of the crease to put San Jose in front 2-1 at 16:52 of the second period.The Kings tied the game 1-1 when Williams fired in a rebound on the power play at 13:27 of the second. Thornton received a double-minor for high-sticking after he struck Richardson in the mouth. Richardson wears a visor, but he pointed to his mouth and picked up something off the ice.San Jose led 1-0 on Wellwood's first goal of the playoffs at 2:58 of the middle period. Quick lost his stick and made a swiping move to his right to get it back, but he didn't and Wellwood went top shelf off Thornton's assist.Notes: Los Angeles was 5 for 24 on the power play in the series. ... Kings D Rob Scuderi briefly left the game in the second period after taking a skate blade near his eye in a collision with Sharks D Niclas Wallin along the boards. ... There were no goals or penalties in the first period, when the Sharks outshot the Kings 16-5. ... The Kings fell to 11-6 all-time in Game 6s.

Mario Edwards Jr joins Raiders in Florida

Mario Edwards Jr joins Raiders in Florida

SARASOTA, Fla. – Mario Edwards Jr. has joined the Raiders in Florida. Head coach Jack Del Rio inferred that would happen earlier this week, but the second-year defensive lineman was confirmed to be at the Ritz-Carlton hotel on Thursday morning.

Edwards Jr. has been on injured reserve all season, and hasn’t practiced since suffering a hip injury in the preseason opener at Arizona. The Raiders plan to use their lone return designation to bring him back from injured reserve, but that hasn’t happened yet.

He needs to do side work before being cleared for practice. Edwards Jr. was not seen during open portions of Thursday’s practice, though he could be training away from prying eyes.

He was eligible to start practicing last week, but wasn’t quite ready. He is also eligible to play in a Week 9 game against Denver, though it’s highly unlikely he’d be ready for that return date. The Raiders have a bye scheduled after the Broncos game, giving him time to be ready to play Houston in a Week 11 affair in Mexico City.

“The whole situation with Mario is when he’s cleared, he’ll go,” head coach Jack Del Rio said on Wednesday. “Until then, he’s going to do stuff, whether it’s on the side or with the trainers and the doctors like all players that are in that designation where doctors have control. Once they have the green light, we’ll get him to work. Until then, he’ll work on the side.”

Rewind: Kings display depth in convincing season-opening victory

Rewind: Kings display depth in convincing season-opening victory

It’s just one game, but an outline is taking shape. The Sacramento Kings might be a newly assembled group with plenty of room to improve, but their 113-94 win over the Phoenix Suns in Wednesday night’s opener showed a quality lacking from previous seasons. This team is deep with NBA level talent and whether they win or lose, they look like a team that will give a fight night in and night out.

The Suns won just 23 games last season and they boast a roster with four teenagers and five total players under the legal drinking age. This isn’t a 67 win Spurs team like the Kings will face Thursday night at the Golden 1 Center, but they are still an NBA squad.

For most of the night, the Kings completely overmatched their young opponents on both ends of the floor. Sacramento took a 57-38 lead into the third quarter and looked like they might walk away with a huge blowout win to start the season. They pushed to lead to 26 multiple times, but then let off the gas.

“We didn’t stay consistent with what we’re doing to have the lead that we had, we broke down,” DeMarcus Cousins said following the game.

Phoenix made a run in the late third quarter and early fourth, cutting the Kings’ lead to 10 before Sacramento responded with a 12-1 run to put the game away.

“The funny thing about tonight, we had a spot that was kind of familiar from the past years, where we were up, but we let another team back in and gave them some energy and gave them some momentum going forward,” Cousins told CSN’s Kayte Christensen. “Usually it will turn into a game. But the difference this year is we poised ourself, shut the water off and got some stops”

The Kings didn’t play 48 minutes of quality basketball. They might not have even made it to the 36 minute plateau, but when they needed a big shot to break the Suns momentum someone stepped up. And when they needed a defensive stop, they had the ability to make one.

“We’re helping each other,” Rudy Gay said following the game. “That’s one of the things in camp that we wanted to make known - that we have to help each other, we have to be a team and play team defense and we did that today.”

It’s a mindset that head coach Dave Joerger has brought with him from his time in Memphis. It’s a grit and grind system that has proven to be very effective for the Kings’ new head coach.

“Defensively, when you get after people, 48 minutes is a long game to be locked and have that focus,” Joerger said. “When you just keep banging away at it and banging away at it, it becomes who you are.”

The Kings are working on the defensive identity that Joerger is preaching. It’s a work in progress, but one that has been missing from Sacramento for quite some time. While the starting unit looked a bit lost on the defensive end to start the game, they made adjustments to stop the Suns interior attack. They also held a quality perimeter shooting Phoenix team to just 4-of-16 from long range.

On the offensive end, Sacramento shared the ball as 11 of the 12 players that took the floor scored a basket and nine players scored six or more points.

“I think the biggest difference is everybody is part of the offense,” Gay said. “Obviously we have our guys who can go get buckets, but when everybody has the freedom to attack and be aggressive and know that there’s time when we get ours, but for the most part, they need to be aggressive too.”

Cousins led the way with 24 points on just 6-of-10 shooting from the floor and Gay added 22. Veterans Matt Barnes (14 points) and Garrett Temple (12 points) helped lead a bench unit that outscored the Suns second team 48-34.

The Kings will face a different beast Thursday night in their home opener. San Antonio is fresh off a drubbing of the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday and have been in Sacramento awaiting the return of the home team. Back-to-backs are never easy, but this one feels especially cruel by the NBA schedule makers.