Fighting Flames next test for Sharks

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Fighting Flames next test for Sharks

March 22, 2011

SHARKS (42-23-8) vs.
CALGARY (37-27-11)

Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California

SAN JOSE (AP) -- With 2 12 weeks left in the season, the San Jose Sharks are in position to win a fourth consecutive Pacific Division title. The Sharks, however, know they could also fall out of playoff position in the tightly bunched Western Conference during this stretch.

Playing its final non-division game this season, San Jose looks to win its fourth straight when it hosts the slumping Calgary Flames on Wednesday night.

HIGHLIGHTS: Pavelski powers Sharks past St. Louis, 5-3

The Sharks (42-23-8) have gone 21-4-3 in their last 28 to move from worst to first in the division. Although San Jose is three points back of second-place Detroit in the West, it know it needs to finish strong.

The Red Wings and 10th-place Flames - who are tied with eighth-place Anaheim and ninth-place Dallas with 85 points - are separated by 10 points.

VIDEO: Heatley on his suspension

"You look at that three through eight and that can really change the next two weeks," forward Dany Heatley told the Sharks' official website. "You want to have the highest seed as possible obviously for home ice and things like that. ... These last nine games are going to mean a lot."

The Sharks are getting Heatley back for this game he served a two-game suspension for elbowing Dallas' Steve Ott on March 15. Rookie center Logan Couture, however, is questionable after suffering a lower-body injury in a 5-3 victory over St. Louis on Saturday.

Couture, who has a franchise rookie-record 27 goals with 21 assists, sat out practice Monday.

"I don't like sitting out games," he said. "If I'm healthy, I want to play."
RELATED: Couture day to day with lower-body injury

San Jose may not have its Calder Trophy hopeful on the ice, so it may need Joe Pavelski to continue his hot streak. The center has three goals and eight assists while recording at least a point in each of his last four.

"I feel confident with the puck," Pavelski said after scoring twice with an assist Saturday. "The line's been playing good. We've had lots of chances."
RELATED: Pavelski named NHL's First Star

The Flames (37-27-11) have dropped five of six and are running out of opportunities as they struggle to keep pace in the playoff race. Calgary lost 2-1 in a shootout at Los Angeles on Monday.

"We would have loved to get two points, and we know in our remaining games we're going to have to get a ton of them," captain Jarome Iginla said. "So we've got to keep our heads up and keep playing like that."

Former Shark Miikka Kiprusoff, pulled 5:49 into a 5-4 overtime loss at Anaheim on Sunday after yielding three goals, should be in net for this matchup. He made 26 saves versus the Kings.

"Kipper was outstanding," coach Brent Sutter said.

Kiprusoff has gone 1-1-1 with 2.29 goals-against average in Calgary's three games against San Jose this season. He turned away 31 shots in the teams' only meeting at HP Pavilion - a 4-3 Sharks victory Nov. 13.

Antti Niemi, who made 28 saves in that win, is expected to start his 29th consecutive game Wednesday. He stopped 21 shots through overtime and all three in the shootout in a 4-3 victory at Calgary on Feb. 25.

Sharks captain Joe Thornton is one goal shy of reaching 20 for the 11th straight season.

Iginla is tied with Rene Bourque with a team-best two goals against San Jose in 2010-11.

Reigning AL MVP Trout to undergo thumb surgery, out 6-8 weeks

Reigning AL MVP Trout to undergo thumb surgery, out 6-8 weeks

ANAHEIM -- Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout has a torn ligament in his left thumb and will have surgery Wednesday that is expected to sideline him between six to eight weeks.

The Angels put the reigning AL MVP on the disabled list Monday for the first time in his career. The outfielder hurt himself a day earlier making a headfirst slide to steal second base in Miami.

At 25, Trout already is a two-time AL MVP. He is hitting .337 and has 16 home runs, second most in the majors.

Angels general manager Billy Eppler said an MRI revealed the tear. Team doctor Steve Shin arrived in Anaheim later Monday night, met with Trout and it was determined surgery was his best option.

"It was news no player wants to hear," Eppler said. "He's been put in a tough spot and it's something he's still digesting."

The Angels lost shortstop Andrelton Simmons to a similar thumb injury last season. He had surgery and was out slightly over five weeks.

Los Angeles was 26-28 going Monday night's game at home against Atlanta, and the lineup recently missed ailing slugger Albert Pujols.

Trout made his major league debut by playing 40 games for the Angels in 2011. Since then, he's been a five-time All-Star and has finished in the top two in the AL MVP all five seasons.

A year after hitting .315 with a .441 on-base percentage, 29 home runs, 100 RBIs and 30 steals, Trout was off to a dynamic start. He was leading the league in on-base percentage (.461) and slugging percentage (.742) when he was hurt.

"It's really hard to quantify (his loss)," Eppler said. "We're going to feel that impact and it's going to require multiple people stepping up in his absence. The team will fight as it always does. But he's in the heart of the order and a leader in the dugout. Those are tough to absorb."

Dodgers infielder weighs in on Harper's errant helmet throw

Dodgers infielder weighs in on Harper's errant helmet throw

Before the right hooks and haymakers, there was the helmet toss.

A very bad helmet toss.

As he made his way to the mound after getting hit by a pitch on Monday afternoon, Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper attempted to throw his helmet at Giants reliever Hunter Strickland. He missed by a wide margin.

Observers took notice, including Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner.

"What was worse, Harper's helmet throw or 50 Cents first pitch? Heads up in the #McCoveyCove," Turner tweeted shortly after the brawl between the Giants and Nationals.

Turner is referring to a ceremonial first pitch thrown by rapper 50 Cent prior to a Mets game in 2014.

Harper mentioned the helmet when addressing the situation after the game.

"I was trying to go after him, with the helmet or with myself, just doing what I needed to do keep it going, I guess," Harper told reporters.