Season over -- Sharks lose Game 5 in double OT

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Season over -- Sharks lose Game 5 in double OT

May 24, 2011

BOX SCORE SHARKS VIDEONHLPAGE NHLSCOREBOARD
Tim PanaccioCSNCalifornia.com

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- A shot to the glass. A deflection off a stanchion. And a stunning goal that ended the San Jose Sharks' dream.

Again.

You look at this team and the talent we have and to not win it, its tough, Logan Couture said after the Canucks' 3-2 double-overtime victory Tuesday at Rogers Arena that gave them the Western Conference title in five games.

Alexander Edlers attempted dump-in went off the stanchion along the side glass out to the blue line where Kevin Bieksa shot a puck everyone else thought had gone behind the net.

I think I was the only one in the arena who knew where the puck was, Bieksa said.

Bieksas shot squeezed inside the post at 10:18, ending what was an emotionally-draining performance by the Sharks, who played well enough to win.

Patty Marleau tried to hit it Bieksas shot out of the air and clear it and unfortunately, no one saw it, Couture said.

Sharks goalie Antti Niemi never saw the shot.

RATTO: Sharks play their best game too late

Maybe when it was coming, two meters, I saw the puck, Niemi said. One of those weird goals. I saw the puck bounce, then I didnt see it. I looked back and looked in front and then it came.

Fittingly, the game marked the 1994 anniversary of the last time the Canucks made the Stanley Cup Final with a 4-3 double overtime victory against Toronto.

History does repeat itself.

The Sharks, who have been eliminated in the conference finals now two years running, left nothing on the ice.

The best teams get breaks, said Sharks defenseman Ian White, who was on the ice waiting for Edlers dump that never came. They got a few tonight.

The Sharks pressed start to finish with 56 shots on Roberto Luongo, dominating much of the game.

Their best chance might have been in the first overtime when they had a flurry of three shots in the crease. Alas, Luongo saved his best performance in the series for when his team needed it most.

Tough series, said Sharks captain Joe Thornton, who admitted he had a separated right shoulder. We go home and do whatever we do now. Its just disappointing. I felt this team was special this year ... Yeah we played well but were out of the playoffs.

Unlike Game 4, this was a fairly clean, well-officiated game decided by 5-on 5-play and not special teams even though the Sharks did get a power play goal.

Devin Setoguchis first goal of the series just 24 seconds into the third period broke a 1-1 tie as San Jose got a rare 2-0 rush against the Sedin line. Joe Pavelski made a lunging pass across to elude Luongos reach to get the puck to Setoguchi who shot it into an open net.

Incredibly, though the Sharks dominated the game and looked to have it salted away, Dan Boyle shot it around for an icing with 29 seconds left in regulation. Most of the players and coach Todd McLellan felt it hit one of the Sedins shoulders, which would have denied the icing.

It happens real fast, McLellan said. May be hard to catch with the naked eye. Obviously an error. But there's nothing we're doing about it now.

After that icing, Thornton playing with one shoulder, and Ryan Kesler, playing on one leg, after injuring his left one in the second period, took the crucial draw. Kesler won it, then went to the net to redirect Henrik Sedins shot, sending it into overtime at 19:46.

McLellan said he didnt address his team. He wanted to wait till they got back to San Jose.

What will I tell them? McLellan asked. Off the top of my head, I'll tell them I'm proud of them. I thought they competed extremely hard. I'll tell them I thought we were a better team than we were in the series. We started to show it in the end of the series.

I'll tell them we have a tough task ahead of us. First of all, we're going to get healthy, we're going to rest over the summer, we're going to get our butts back to training camp where we're going to work ourselves right back to this spot again, and we'll make good on it next time.

McLellan loaded up in this one, using Marleau, Thornton and Couture as his top line.

Despite a strong start from the Sharks with Marleau and Thornton getting back-to-back scoring chances on Luongo in the opening minutes, the Canucks struck first at 8:02.

Surehanded Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray had the puck swiped from him by Daniel Sedin behind the net. Sedin passed it between his legs to his twin, Henrik, who threw it into the crease where Alex Burrows buried it on Niemi for a 1-0 lead at 8:02.

Burrows has scored some big goals during key moments in the Canucks' playoff run.

The Sharks' nightmare in Game 4 was a trio of 5-on-3 power plays that Vancouver converted. Well, shortly after Setoguchi tipped a shot off the post during the games first power play, Kesler went off for slashing, giving the Sharks a two-man advantage for 1:24.

Thornton had two quality chances while Joe Pavelski and Dan Boyle each had one, but Luongo, who had some rough starts in this series, was sharp on recovery for the saves.

Three times during that 5 on 3, the Sharks were so tightly bunched in a triangle around the crease that rebounds were actually behind them. A little more gap distance with someone in the high slot and they would have scored on Luongo.

The Canucks had 13 blocked shots in the first period, several during those two Sharks power plays.

To that point, Vancouver had killed off 14 of 15 penalties over previous games, but the Canucks failed to keep it going when Marleau tipped a Dan Boyle point shot on the power play midway into the second period to tie the game during the same shift when Kesler limped off the ice with left leg or hip injury.

The goal was Marleaus fifth of the series. No one can accuse him of being a no-show in this series.

It's hard to find passengers today, McLellan said. We felt as good as the game wore on. We were playing our fourth line. They were playing three. We felt we had some control of the game.

Dany Heatley had one assist in the series. He was more passenger than performer and admitted he himself didnt produce in the series.

We played well enough to win tonight, but not in the series, Heatley said.

McLellan thought the seven game series against Detroit left his team tired for Game 1.

We ran out of gas in Game 1, he said. We lose our composure in Game 2. We get to Game 4 and it's a matter of about four minutes' worth of penalties. Tonight was bounces, in my opinion. We got better as the series went on.

Couture seemed beside himself, facing another wave of reporters as Heatley spoke to a small group along the side.

Last year, was a tough summer thinking about the team we had and it ended short, Couture said. It sucks to lose. I want to win. Growing up, I hated to lose. I was so competitive. Every player in this room is so competitive. We wanted to win so badly.
Tim Panaccio is the NHL Insider forCSNPhilly.comE-mail him at tpanotch@comcast.net

With Bumgarner sidelined, Blach 'taking full advantage' of opportunity

With Bumgarner sidelined, Blach 'taking full advantage' of opportunity

SAN FRANCISCO -- At some point over the next four days, Madison Bumgarner will pick up a baseball, stand a few feet across from a member of the training staff, and simply play catch. It'll be a huge step in Bumgarner's rehab, and should it go well, a boost to the psyche of a struggling team.

In the meantime, another lefty is making sure the Giants don't suffer too much without their ace, as improbable as that first seemed.

Ty Blach took a shutout into the eighth Saturday night and in true Bumgarner fashion, he added a pair of hits and an RBI. The Giants beat the Braves 6-3. They've won Blach's past three starts, and even with a 10-run outing in Cincinnati mixed in, he has a 3.71 ERA since taking the spot left open by a dirt bike accident.

"Because of what happened he's in the rotation," manager Bruce Bochy said, "And he's taking full advantage."

Blach has shown that long term, he might be a big part of this rotation. It's been years since the Giants locked a young, cost-controlled starter in, and Blach has backed up his big cameo last year. It's possible -- likely even -- that at some point the Giants will need to trade a veteran, perhaps Johnny Cueto, for young bats. Blach provides needed insurance. 

Short term, he's providing a huge boost to a team that doesn't have much going right. Blach has thrown at least seven innings in his past four starts. He has allowed just eight earned runs in four starts since the one in Cincinnati, throwing 28 2/3 innings. 

"I feel good," Blach said. "I've always been a starter, so it's been a pretty easy transition to make. I feel comfortable."

The Giants are comfortable behind him, as evidenced by a half-dozen strong defensive plays Saturday. 

"He's been consistent and he works quickly," first baseman Brandon Belt said. "He's just a great guy to play behind."

Blach even joined in at the plate. He had an RBI single in his first at-bat -- his first big league hit off Not Clayton Kershaw -- and later roped another single. Blach even showed off his wheels, busting it from first to third on Denard Span's ball to the corner before Phil Nevin held him up. 

"I worked into some good counts and I was able to get fastballs," Blach said of his night at the plate. "It's definitely a big confidence booster when your spot comes up and you're able to drive in runs."

The night was straight out of Bumgarner's playbook, and it was needed. The Giants had dropped five of six, but Blach was backed by homers from Nick Hundley and Brandon Belt. It got a little hairy late, but the bullpen held on, clinching Blach's third win of the season. He looks poised for many more, and Bochy is happy to keep running him out there.

"I'm not surprised by what he's doing," the manager said.

 

Instant Analysis: Blach does it all vs Braves, Giants snap skid

Instant Analysis: Blach does it all vs Braves, Giants snap skid

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — This spot in the rotation is the one reserved for the stopper, the pitcher who takes a game by the throat when his team really needs it. 

Ty Blach took the mound Saturday for a team that had lost five of six, and just as Madison Bumgarner often has, Blach ended the skid. The young lefty was dominant into the eighth and the bats finally provided enough support. The Giants won 6-3, tying this weekend series with the Braves.

Here are five things to know from a night we were reminded that Emilio Bonifacio is in the big leagues … 

--- Blach pitched 7 2/3 innings. He has thrown at least seven innings in his last four starts, and five of seven starts overall. Jeff Samardzija (6) is the only Giants starter who has gone that deep more often. Blach is tied with Johnny Cueto for second-most seven-inning starts on staff, and Cueto has made three additional starts. 

--- Blach’s RBI single in the fourth was -- at the time -- the fourth hit of his career, and the first against a pitcher not named Clayton Kershaw. The ball had an exit velocity of 101 mph. Blach tried to score from first on Denard Span’s double, but Phil Nevin held him. Still, the way he was moving, it makes you wonder if Samardzija really is Bruce Bochy’s best pitcher-pinch-running option. In the seventh, Blach picked up a second single. 

--- Blach’s only bad start has been the one he made in Cincinnati, where the Giants played like a Double-A team. If you take that one out, Blach has a 2.21 ERA since taking over Bumgarner’s rotation spot. 

--- Even though he gave up just two earned in 7 2/3, Blach’s home ERA actually went up. It’s 1.75, which ranks seventh in the National League. The sellout crowd gave Blach a standing ovation when he was pulled in the eighth. 

--- Blach had a season-high five strikeouts. When he got Nick Markakis to end the first, Blach ended a streak of 37 left-handers faced without a strikeout. He later struck out another lefty, Matt Adams. The new Braves first baseman came up as the tying run in the eighth but Derek Law got him to ground out to first. 

--- Bonus sixth “thing to know” ... on Blach of course: His first name is Tyson, not Tyler. It’s Tyson Michael Blach.