Sharks top Coyotes 3-1 in regular season finale

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Sharks top Coyotes 3-1 in regular season finale

April 9, 2011

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SAN JOSE (AP) Having completed their long climb from 12th to second place in the Western Conference in the final three months of the regular season, the San Jose Sharks can now start looking ahead to the most important time of year.Joe Pavelski scored his 20th goal of the season and Antti Niemi made 35 saves as the Sharks wrapped up the No. 2 seed in the playoffs with a 3-1 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday night."We've come a long way," captain Joe Thornton said. "We had to work hard to get where we are. It's been quite a year, going from 12th to second. We had to do a lot of good things to make up that ground and it's satisfying. But we still have a lot of work to do."Ian White and Logan Couture also scored for the Sharks, who are assured of home-ice advantage for at least the first two rounds. The Sharks will not know their first-round opponent until after Chicago's season finale against Detroit on Sunday.But they felt good knowing they are heading into the postseason on a winning note, especially having pulled out the kind of tight game that will be the norm in the coming weeks."It's good to get back and play in one of these games because there's a lot of nights that this is how it's going to go," Pavelski said.The Coyotes missed out on a chance to finish fourth in the conference and having home ice for the first round. Depending on Sunday's results, Phoenix could meet the Sharks again in the first round, having lost nine of 10 games to their Pacific Division rivals."We knew there was a lot at stake for us," coach Dave Tippett said. "We had a chance to get home ice and it didn't come to be. Our fate will be decided tomorrow in watching that Detroit-Chicago game before the seedings are set. We'll just have to wait to see what it brings."The Coyotes got their lone goal when Lauri Korpikoski blocked Jason Demers' point shot and went in all alone on Niemi and beat him with a wrist shot for his 19th goal with 11:24 remaining.But Couture put the game away when he scored his 32nd goal on the power play with just 1:31 to go - just seconds after Ilya Bryzgalov robbed Thornton with a spectacular, sprawling save.The Sharks broke up a scoreless game with two goals in the second. The first came after a relentless shift when they kept the puck in the offensive zone for more than a minute. Bryzgalov made tough saves on Dany Heatley and Kyle Wellwood, but the Coyotes were unable to clear the puck.White then fired a shot from the point that beat Bryzgalov for his second goal in as many nights after failing to score in his first 21 games with San Jose."That that was a great momentum shift for us," White said. "Fortunately, one of them went in."San Jose added its second goal late in the period with Martin Hanzal was sent off for roughing. Pavelski got the puck in front of the net and beat Bryzgalov with a shot just before being flattened by Shane Doan to make it 2-0. The goal made the Sharks the only team in the league with seven 20-goal scorers.Niemi made sure the game stayed that way heading into the third when he made a sharp stop on Radim Vrbata in the closing seconds of the period with Phoenix on the power play."Wow, was he good," coach Todd McLellan said. "When we made mistakes, he was there to make some tremendous saves. I thought the guy at the other end, Bryzgalov, was also very good. That's playoff goaltending"The Coyotes had the better of the play early in a scoreless first period, recording the first six shots of the game. But the Sharks had the best chance early when Bryzgalov stopped Scott Nichol from right in front of the net with a pad save.Phoenix's best chance of the period was thwarted when Jason Demers made a diving breakup of a breakaway attempt by Doan in the closing minutes of the first."I think we started the game pretty well," Korpikoski said. "We got a couple power plays and didn't score on those. The fact that we didn't get the first goal was the big difference today."Notes: McLellan tied Mike Keenan with the most wins in his first three seasons with 152. ... Bryzgalov started 38 of the final 40 games of the season. ... F Devin Setoguchi played for San Jose a night after being a late scratch because of cramping in pregame warmups. ... The Sharks recalled F Benn Ferriero from Worcester (AHL) and sent Fs Andrew Desjardins and Brandon Mashinter back to the minors. ... Niemi was honored as Sharks player of the year, while Couture won the award for top rookie.

49ers, McDonald agree to five-year extension

49ers, McDonald agree to five-year extension

The 49ers signed tight end Vance McDonald to a five-year contract extension through the 2021 season, the team announced late Friday.

The deal is worth $35 million, including $16 million in guaranteed money, ESPN reported.

McDonald ranks third on the 49ers with 24 catches for 391 yards and four touchdowns. He has touchdown receptions this season of 75 and 65 yards.

"Vance has shown consistent growth throughout his four-year career and his production this season is the result of his dedication and hard work,” 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said in a statement. “We believe he has only scratched the surface of what he will be able to accomplish in his career. Vance is a tremendous ambassador for the 49ers, and his passion for helping others provides a wonderful example for this organization. We look forward to his continued contributions to this organization, both on and off the field.”

McDonald is in the final season of his original four-year, $3.99 million contract he signed as a second-round draft pick in 2013.

In McDonald’s three previous seasons, he caught just 40 passes for 475 yards and three touchdowns.

McDonald spoke last week about the greater chances he's gotten to prove himself since the 49ers traded Vernon Davis last season.

“I just always look back at the opportunity when Vernon went to (Denver),” McDonald said. “Just being able to have the trust and the opportunity to start games and play every down.”

Said 49ers coach Chip Kelly, "He’s one of our weapons on the offensive side of the ball and he runs better than most tight ends in this league. So really depends on week to week what people have available at the safety spot to kind of match up with him. But he’s certainly someone that I think people defensively have to game plan for.”

 

 

Sharks' Thornton not concerned with his offensive numbers

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USATSI

Sharks' Thornton not concerned with his offensive numbers

ANAHEIM – When you have a guy on your roster that just broke into the NHL’s top 25 in scoring, it’s probably difficult to tell him how to play the game.

Still, Joe Thornton is not putting up offensive numbers he’s accustomed to. Through 26 games, Thornton has just two goals and 14 assists for 16 points. Somewhat shockingly, both of his goals have come into an empty net, meaning he has yet to beat a single goaltender with a shot with nearly one-third of the schedule already in the books.

Coach Pete DeBoer remarked on Friday morning, “I think every coach that he’s ever played for would like him to shoot more.”

But has DeBoer told Thornton, who has 27 shots, to shoot more?

“I haven’t recently,” he said. “We’ve had conversations like all coaches do about it, but I pretty much let him play his game. I think most of the conversations we have are about other parts of the game.”

"For me, he does so many things so well for us that we’re not piling on that he needs to score or shoot more. He’s got to play his game, and the offense will come. He stirs our offensive drink, so to speak, and he does it well. I’m not worried about the fact that he doesn’t have goals, no.”

There’s reason to believe Thornton will pick up his production. In fact, his start this season is nearly identical to last year, when he had 15 points (3g, 12a) through 26 games. Over the final four months he up 66 points after Dec. 15, tied for Sidney Crosby for the most in the NHL.

The alternate captain indicated the Sharks’ short summer, combined with his playing for Team Canada in the World Cup, might have taken a toll on his 37-year-old body.

“Going deeper in the postseason I think, it just starts a little bit different – plus the World Cup started earlier. You just kind of jam it in,” he said. “I feel good lately, and hopefully [I’ll] continue it.”

Not surprisingly, the famously laid back Thornton isn’t concerned with the fact he doesn’t have any non-empty netters yet.

“They’ll eventually go in. It’s no secret I’m more of a pass-first guy,” he said. “When you don’t expect it, that’s when they usually come. I haven’t been squeezing my stick or anything.”

“It comes at the strangest times. For whatever reason, you get hot for little stretches of time. I’ve never been one to worry too much.”