Marleau's O.T. goal lifts Sharks with four ticks left

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Marleau's O.T. goal lifts Sharks with four ticks left

Feb. 23, 2011

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PITTSBURGH (AP) Foiled by Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury once already in overtime, San Jose's Patrick Marleau went back to the front of the net to see if he could get another opportunity.He did, and took advantage, converting Logan Couture's rebound from close at 4:56 of overtime to seal a 3-2 victory over the Penguins on Wednesday.It was Marleau's second goal of the game, and came exactly a minute after he broke in on a clear-cut breakaway only to have his backhand gloved by Fleury."That wasn't my best move, that's for sure, but it was a good save," Marleau said.
VIDEO: Patrick Marleau postgame
Marleau's resilience resembled that of his team's, which didn't let down after allowing Pittsburgh's Tyler Kennedy to force overtime by scoring with 50 seconds left in regulation."It's just a sign of our perseverance," Marleau said. "You don't want to see that happen, but when it does happen, you want to see guys forget about it right away."The decisive goal came during a scramble in front, and after Fleury stopped Couture from in close. The puck dribbled to the left of the net, where Marleau flipped it in for the surging Sharks who improved to 14-2-1 in their past 17 games.It was Marleau's sixth game-winner of the season, and second in overtime in a span of five games, after he settled a 2-1 win at Nashville.The Sharks extended their winning streak to five games while also vaulting a point ahead of Phoenix into first place of the tightly packed Pacific Division.Couture, with his franchise rookie record-tying 25th goal of the season, also scored while Antti Niemi stopped 24 shots.Kennedy scored twice for the Penguins, who are winless in their past three (0-1-2) and dropped to 2-5-2 in their past nine since Evgeni Malkin sustained a season-ending knee injury to join captain Sidney Crosby on the injury list. Crosby is out indefinitely after missing his 21st straight game with a concussion.Penguins coach Dan Bylsma wasn't pleased with the outcome, even though the Penguins earned a point to move four points ahead of the fifth-place Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference.
RELATED: NHL standings
"It doesn't feel much of a consolation prize to add a point there," Bylsma said. "We think we need to play better than that to get the result we want going forward."The Penguins might be down yet another key player after defenseman Brooks Orpik did not return for the start of the second period after taking Marleau's shot off his hand late in the opening period. Orpik skated off shaking his hand and was escorted up the tunnel.Bylsma said he would wait until Thursday to update Orpik's status.The new-look Penguins continue to have difficulty scoring, despite shaking up their lineup by adding forward James Neal and defenseman Matt Niskanen in a trade that sent defenseman Alex Goligoski to Dallas on Monday.Both Neal and Niskanen made their debuts, but the Penguins extended their string to 15 games since they scored four or more goals in regulation.Pittsburgh has been shut out three times during that span, including a 1-0 loss to Washington on Monday."I don't really care how many goals we score, we've just got to win," Neal said. "We played well last game, we played pretty well tonight. We need to keep playing well every night and give ourselves a chance."Neal finished with two shots on goal, his best chance coming four minutes into the third period, when he blasted a shot on the fly from just inside the blue line, only to have Niemi get his right shoulder up for the stop. He made an even better save with 7:01 left, getting his glove up to snatch a snap shot from Kris Letang, who was driving in alone up the right wing.Niemi sees Sharks developing chemistry during their second-half run."I think it comes from just being confident that we are able to do it and we trust each other," Niemi said. "We've been playing really well lately, and we've got to keep it up."The Sharks, coming off a 4-3 win at Detroit on Tuesday, won by rallying from a 1-0 deficit, after Kennedy opened the scoring during a scramble in front at 5:48 of the first.Couture tied it 3:01 into the second period. He's tied with the Islanders' Michael Grabner for the rookie lead in goals and also tied the franchise rookie record set by Pat Falloon in 1991. Marleau then scored 5:28 into the third period to put the Sharks ahead 2-1.Fleury kept the Penguins in the game. He finished with 35 saves, including a pair of blocker shots on bang-bang chances from Joe Pavelski and Kyle Wellwood with 4 minutes left.Notes: In closing a brief two-game homestand, the Penguins hit the road for a five-game swing that opens at Carolina on Friday. The home games are the only two for Pittsburgh during a 25-day span. ... The Sharks conclude a three-game road trip at Calgary on Friday before returning home for a six-game homestand, which opens Tuesday against Colorado. ... For the second consecutive home game, the start of the second period was delayed because the house lights wouldn't come on in the first-year Consol Energy Center. The delay on Wednesday lasted more than 15 minutes, or 10 minutes longer than on Monday.

Giants Notes: Blach shows resiliency; Another option in center?

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Giants Notes: Blach shows resiliency; Another option in center?

CHICAGO — John Lackey's night started with a leadoff homer. Ty Blach's night started with a 13-pitch battle. Neither one is a positive for a pitcher, but Blach didn't view it that way. He actually appreciated Ben Zobrist stretching him out.

"It's good to have a battle like that and get you locked in," Blach said. "It gets you focused and you'll be like, I can execute and get guys out. It's good. It's a good battle."

There, in a nutshell, is so much of what Bruce Bochy loves about his young left-hander. The Giants have found Blach's arm and resolve to be remarkably resilient. He wasn't bothered when they moved him to the bullpen and he didn't get too high when they moved him back to the rotation. He is the same after seven shutout innings or three poor ones. Bochy smiled when asked about the Zobrist at-bat, which ended in a strikeout looking. 

"How 'bout that?" the manager said. "He won that at-bat. It seems like the advantage goes to the hitter, seeing all those pitches. He kept his focus and got a called strikeout and here he is pitching in the eighth inning."

After needing 13 pitches for one out, Blach got the next 23 on 81 pitches. Bochy thought Blach tired a bit in the eighth, but the deep effort allowed Bochy to mix and match in the bullpen, and ultimately he found the right mix. Hunter Strickland and Mark Melancon closed it out and got Blach his second win.

--- From last night, Joe Panik's huge night helped give Blach an early lead. With the help of Ron Wotus and his shift charts, he also put on a show defensively.

--- We're trying something new right after the final pitch: Here are five quick takeaways from the 6-4 win.

--- The options game sent Kelby Tomlinson back to Triple-A on Wednesday when the Giants activated Melancon, but his latest stint in Sacramento comes with a twist. Tomlinson started his third consecutive game in center field on Monday. The Giants are getting a bit more serious about their longtime plan to make Tomlinson a super-utility player. 

“Tommy is a valuable guy in the majors and if we can give him some experience in the outfield, it gives you more flexibility and versatility,” manager Bruce Bochy said. 

This is not Tomlinson’s first foray into the outfield. He did work there in the offseason after the 2015 season and he has played 25 big league innings in left field the last two seasons. This is Tomlinson’s first real experience with center field, and while in the past he has said that the transition isn’t as easy as some might think, Bochy is confident Tomlinson can figure it out. He certainly has the speed to be a semi-regular in the outfield, and the Giants aren’t exactly brimming with quality center field options behind Denard Span, who is dealing with his second injury of the season. 

“It’s a little different now,” Bochy said when asked about Tomlinson’s past experiences in the outfield. “He’s in Sacramento doing it, and knowing there’s a possibility we could need help in the outfield.”

If the switch doesn’t come in handy this season, it could in 2018. Bochy compared Tomlinson’s infield-outfield ability to Eduardo Nuñez, who has found regular playing time in left but is a free agent after the year. 

--- Hunter Pence did some light running in the outfield before Monday’s game. Bochy said Pence is still about a week away from being an option.

--- Bochy has said it a few times now when asked about the standings, so it’s officially a new motto for a team that got off to a brutal start: “We’ve put ourselves in a great situation for a great story.”

--- They're starting to get a little grumpy around here with their team hovering around .500. Perhaps the Cubs thought they could fool a few on the way out of Wrigley.

Agony still present, Kerr uncertain if he can coach Warriors in NBA Finals

Agony still present, Kerr uncertain if he can coach Warriors in NBA Finals

SAN ANTONIO -- Those following the Warriors and their effort to rage through the playoffs should put away those thoughts and hopes that Steve Kerr will return to full-time coaching later this week or sometime before the NBA Finals.

Forget about it, unless you know something he doesn’t.

And if you do, he wants to hear what you have to say.

Don’t get it wrong: Kerr wants to coach, would love to coach. That’s why, even as he feels like hell, he’s hanging around the team like a languid groupie. He wants to be with the Warriors in the heat of battle because they’re his team, within the culture he instilled, and he would like nothing more to get another chance to win The Finals.

But because the procedure he underwent more than two weeks ago at Duke Spine Center did not deliver the relief he’d hoped for, Kerr knows he’s not up to the task and, therefore, continues to operate as sort of a associate head coach to acting head coach Mike Brown.

“Mike is doing great,” Kerr told NBCSportsBayArea.com late Monday night, after the Warriors clinched a third consecutive trip to the NBA Finals with a 129-115 Game 4 win over the Spurs. “He’s such a wonderful human being. He’s so unselfish and team-oriented. I’m proud of him and the job he’s doing, along with the rest of the staff. I wish I could be out there with them. And maybe I will. I don’t know. We’ll see.

“He’s a great partner. And we’re in this together, obviously, but he’s got to make decisions with the staff without me. He’s done a great job of navigating the games. We’re undefeated, so he’s doing something right.”

Kerr can only help from the perimeter. The demands of the job require the coach be able to function at near-peak levels, particularly before and during a game, and he simply can’t. He knows there will be times, all too often, when the discomfort becomes unbearable to such a degree he hardly can think straight.

The agony is visible. The players see it. The staff sees it. Brown sees it, feels it and hears it. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is one of Kerr’s best friends -- as well as a good friend of Brown -- was able to see it during the Western Conference Finals.

“I've spoken with Steve and Mike; we're friends,” Popovich said two hours before Game 4. “We've known each other a long time. But as far as Steve's concerned, it's just a crap situation.

“You know, he's done a phenomenal job. And when you're going through that pain every day and that frustration of not being able to do what you want to do, it's hard to enjoy it at the fullest level. So I feel badly for him all the time but hopeful that stuff will get figured out.”

Nobody wants that more than Kerr, who has tried nearly everything any respectable specialist has recommended. So far, there has been no miracle.

So Kerr forges ahead, getting his Warriors fix by being around the group. By meeting with coaches and players. By meeting with general manager Bob Myers. Kerr was with the Warriors throughout their stay in San Antonio. He was at practices and shootarounds, sometimes on the floor and sometimes sitting in the stands observing from afar.

“I need to be around the guys,” he said. “I don’t want to miss this. Just being in the locker room, being able to talk to the guys means a lot to me. I’m thrilled for them. It’s fun to see how happy they are with three straight trips to The Finals. It’s pretty incredible.”

Kerr has been with the team for at least a few hours every day since May 10, less than a week after his procedure at Duke.

Kerr’s presence has been invaluable, both physically and psychologically, according to staff and players.

“Coach just empowers everybody,” Kevin Durant said. “His message is still the same. Even when he wasn't there in the Utah series, you could still feel his presence. That's what great leaders do.”

Participation, making himself feel useful, is one form of therapy that gives Kerr a semi-satisfying break from the misery.

“He watches film, and he watches the game,” Brown said. “So he gives his perspective from where he is. He gives insight on what we should be doing going forward, what he felt we could have done better, what we did that was good. So he just gives his input, mainly. He addresses the team every once in a while. He doesn't always do that, but he'll address the team from time to time.”

There was some belief that Kerr could return to full-time coaching within a week or so after the procedure, for which he declined to provide details. Warriors CEO Joe Lacob expressed hope Kerr might return “sooner rather than later.” Had it been as successful as Kerr and the doctors hoped, he would have.

That was May 5. Kerr announced he was stepping aside on April 23. As of Wednesday, he was been on leave for a full month.

Asked if he plans to travel during the NBA Finals, Kerr said he hopes so: “It’s like a month away,” he said, exaggerating the nine-day layoff.

He’d rather say with certainty that, yes, he will be accompanying the team because, after all, he’s the head coach.

And he will say that, the moment his body tells him it’s OK to do so.