Niemi skunks Bruins, Sharks 2-0 on road trip


Niemi skunks Bruins, Sharks 2-0 on road trip

Kevin Kurz

BOSTON As the top two teams in the NHL in shots on goal, and with both offenses firing on all cylinders lately, the Sharks-Bruins Saturday afternoon matchup at TD Garden was primed to be an end-to-end affair with scoring chances aplenty.Or, maybe not.San Jose managed just 18 shots, a season low, and Logan Couture scored the only non-empty net goal of the game in a 2-0 Sharks victory. It extends their streak to 7-0-1 in the last eight games, and they have won the first two games on their seven-game road trip. The win also moved the Sharks into a tie for fourth place in the Western Conference with 62 points, just three behind Dallas for the Pacific Division lead, pending Saturday night's action.
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While Couture coming through with a big goal is nothing new, the circumstances of his solid play were. The rookie was thrown onto a newly christened line with players that werent even wearing teal a month ago, as forwards Kyle Wellwood and Ben Eager skated on either side of Couture in what was San Joses most energetic and effective line of the afternoon.That may not be saying a whole lot considering the other forward lines were pretty ineffective, but its a good sign nonetheless, and Couture was pleased with their chemistry.Wellwood really can make plays with his patience and his vision. He found me a couple times where I could have scored, he said. Eager is a big body down low and he can control the play, and hes good on the forecheck.We had some good movement, and carried the play in their end a few times, Wellwood agreed. We got some pucks at the net, and against a team like Boston on the road, thats hard to do.Coutures goal didnt come with his new linemates, though it came on the power play, an area in which the Sharks have been thriving during their recent run of success.He took a pass from Ryane Clowe and patiently waited for daylight before backhanding the puck past Tim Thomas at 7:22. The Sharks power play is an impressive 9-for-28 in the last nine games (32.1 percent).That was all of the scoring in the game until Devin Setoguchis goal with 2.1 seconds left with Thomas pulled for an extra attacker.While the Sharks were struggling to put the rubber on net, the Bruins werent doing much better. Boston was playing for the first time since a six-goal explosion in Thursday's emotional win over Dallas, which featured three fights in the first four seconds of the game.
REWIND: Bruins outslug Stars for 6-3 victory
Perhaps suffering from an emotional hangover, the Bruins lacked energy and cohesion from the start. The few scoring chances they did get, Antti Niemi was there to turn them aside in recording his third shutout of the season.Todd McLellan used one word when asked about Niemi, who was making his eighth straight start.Solid, said the coach. He saw the puck, made the first save, and was there when we he had to take care of the second. He made the team in front of him feel very comfortable.Dan Boyle, who played a game high 24:25, thinks the teams defense as a whole is trending upward.Were trying to become a better defensive team than we have in the first half, and its a combination of guys blocking shots, and defensemen doing a better job in front of the goalie, he said. Tonight our offensive game was not very good, but defensively we were pretty strong.With San Jose riding its hot streak, McLellan decided to leave his top two lines alone despite Coutures return, meaning that Clowe skated with Setoguchi and Joe Pavelski while Joe Thornton was with regulars Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau.While Couture was busy generating scoring chances, Eager, in particular, found himself the center of attention a few times in the game. The big winger dropped the gloves with Bostons Adam McQuaid early in the second (and picked up an extra roughing minor in the process), but it was his contact with the Bruins goaltender later in the period that led to the most controversial call of the afternoon.With the Sharks applying pressure in the Boston zone, Eager tried to establish position in front of the goal crease. He bumped shoulders with Thomas right before a shot by Douglas Murray from the faceoff circle found the far top corner of the net. Referee Dennis LaRue immediately waived off the goal at 7:37 due to incidental contact.The explanation that Dennis gave me was exactly how I saw it in the video, said McLellan. Its a decision he has to make instantly, he went with it, and we have to live with it.Fortunately for the Sharks it didnt end up being a factor in the outcome, and a win in a tough building against a division leader is in the books.The Sharks resume their road trip on Tuesday night in Washington against Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals.Were in fourth place now, so its not a bad position to be in, said Thornton. Were chugging along pretty well.

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.