Sharks can't close it, Red Wings rally for 4-3 win


Sharks can't close it, Red Wings rally for 4-3 win


SAN JOSE (AP) The Detroit Red Wings are coming home with a chance to take a step toward history.Suddenly, that seems well within reach.Tomas Holmstrombroke a tie with 6:08 remaining, and the Red Wings scored threethird-period goals to avoid elimination with a 4-3 victory over the SanJose Sharks on Sunday night."There's a lot of character on this team. There's not any quit," said Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard, who made 39 saves. "Our season was on the line there in the third period, and we found a way."
RATTO: Sharks lose focus, composure and Game 5 along the way
Danny Cleary and Jonathan Ericssonalso scored in the final period to send the series back to Detroit forGame 6 on Tuesday night. After winning the first three games, San Joseis clinging to a 3-2 lead.Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski and Devin Setoguchiscored to help the Sharks take a 3-1 lead early in the third period.Then the Red Wings scored two quick goals before Holmstrom redirectedthe winner past Antti Niemi, leaving a sellout crowd stunned and silent.Niklas Kronwell also scored and Pavel Datsyuk added three assists for Detroit."I think you put yourselves in a verydangerous position if you get back on your heels against that team,"Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "I didn't think we did that tonight.They just outplayed us in the third period."The Red Wings moved closer to adding to their already storied history.The 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, 1975New York Islanders and 2010 Philadelphia Flyers are the only teams towin a series after losing the first three games. With Chicago winningthree straight to force a Game 7 against Vancouver in the openinground, that's enough precedent to give Detroit hope that it can pushSan Jose to the brink.The Red Wings already have overcomea repeat of last season, when they went down 3-0 to the Sharks -- justlike this year -- before being eliminated in Game 5 at San Jose.No encore this time.
RELATED: Game 5 notes -- bad wrist can't slow Datsyuk
Detroit came back again with astrong push up ice and sent several shots at Niemi after going down twogoals. In a span of 1:46, the Red Wings got a goal from Ericsson andanother from Cleary on a wraparound shot for the equalizer.Then Nicklas Lidstromsent a slap shot from the center that was deflected on net byHolmstrom, redirected top shelf to beat Niemi and shock a towel-wavingcrowd that was ready to toast a berth in the Western Conference finalsfor the second straight season."I didn't know it went in right away," Holmstrom said. "But I saw the ref point at the net and I felt pretty good."Fans had reason to be optimistic: the Sharks had controlled the puck and forced the action from the start.But they failed to convert on twopower plays in the opening period - not even registering a shot on thefirst - and nearly fell behind again if not for a spectacular save fromtheir goalie. Niemi kept the Red Wings from going ahead first, divingto his left to rob a slap shot by Ericsson with a glove save.A few minutes later, Joe Thornton won a faceoff in Detroit's territory and passed it back for a slap shot by Dan Boylefrom just inside the blue line. Boyle's shot was redirected bySetoguchi for his fifth goal of the playoffs to put San Jose up 1-0with 2:42 left in the period.The Red Wings were able to kill offanother power play in the second to give themselves a chance, only tofail to even get a shot off when they had their own man advantage. ThenPavelski made them pay when he took a pass from Ryane Clowe on a 2-on-1 break, flicking the puck past Howard to give the Sharks a 2-0 lead.The goal also was Pavelski's fifthof the playoffs, although he didn't have much time to celebrate.Kronwell scored 53 seconds later with a wrist shot that beat Niemi topshelf with 3:35 left in the period.Any momentum the Red Wings had entering the final period seemed to end with a thud.Dany Heatleycame out of a scrum along the side boards and shoved a pass ahead toCouture, who finished on a wide-open breakaway past Howard's left leg54 seconds into the third period to give the Sharks a 3-1 cushion."When we go up 3-1 we usually finishteams off," Thornton said. "They fought back very hard. We made acouple of careless plays and against their skilled players, they putthose in."NOTES: Red Wings F Johan Franzen tweaked his ankle and was limited in the third period. ... The Red Wings inserted left winger Drew Miller into the lineup and scratched Jiri Hudler.... The Sharks are 7-0 when they lead a series 3-1. ... The announcedattendance was a sellout crowd of 17,562. ... The Sharks fell to 5-1when they score first in the playoffs.y

Melvin ponders where Semien fits best in A's batting order


Melvin ponders where Semien fits best in A's batting order

MESA, Ariz. — Marcus Semien provides the A’s a luxury as a shortstop with great home run power.

With that, an annual question surfaces:

Where is the best spot to hit him in the batting order?

Semien led American League shortstops, and finished second on the A’s, with 27 homers last season, yet he spent the majority of his time hitting seventh or ninth. Given Oakland finished last in the American League in runs last season, would it make sense to move him up higher?

The early indications are that manager Bob Melvin will keep Semien hitting in the bottom third of the order, even though Semien has bounced around in exhibitions so far.

“He and I were talking about that yesterday,” Melvin said Wednesday morning. “I hit him third yesterday. I’ll have him hit second, I think, tomorrow. But boy, it’s a nice little security blanket (hitting him down in the order). And it seems to be that the ‘7’ spot is where (he hits with) some guys on base. It’s nice to have a guy down in the lineup that is that productive.”

Expect Melvin to continue experimenting with different batting-order combos throughout spring training before honing in on a more steady look as late March rolls around. And where he bats Semien will be based, partly, on how Semien’s teammates are performing offensively.

The A’s signed Rajai Davis to be a speedy table-setter from the leadoff spot. They added Matt Joyce and Trevor Plouffe to add some punch through the middle of the lineup. If those three, plus cleanup man Khris Davis, Stephen Vogt, Jed Lowrie and Ryon Healy are producing, it makes more sense to save Semien as a lower-lineup headache for opposing pitchers to deal with. The shortstop’s nine home runs from the No. 9 spot tied for the major league lead in 2016.

And keep in mind, Semien is likely to bat higher against left-handers. He’s a .288 career hitter with a .493 slugging percentage against lefties, compared to .229 and .380 against right-handers. Last season, he made 24 starts in the No. 2 spot.

But where he hits has no bearing on his approach, Semien said.

“I don’t want to try and change what I do based on where I am in the lineup necessarily. I want to become a better hitter no matter what spot I’m in. There was power production from the ‘9’ hole (last season). I hit second a lot against lefties. Either way, whatever is the best chance to win with that lineup that day is what we’ve gotta do.”

Falcons coach Quinn: 49ers' offense, defense in good hands

Falcons coach Quinn: 49ers' offense, defense in good hands

INDIANAPOLIS – Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn believes the 49ers’ offense and defense have capable people charge.

Quinn, speaking Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine, has worked on the same staffs with 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, who will run the team’s offense, and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

Saleh, who served as Jacksonville’s linebackers coach the past three season, spent one season on the Seattle staff when Quinn was defensive coordinator.

“He has a really good and rock-solid understanding of the principles of playing three-deep and man-to-man,” Quinn said of Saleh. “He’s an excellent teacher. And, I think, as a coordinator that’s a really important thing, especially when you’re first putting the whole thing together so everyone has a real clear understanding and they’re all on the same page. So I think he’ll do a fantastic job.”

Shanahan did not hire an assistant to serve under the title of offensive coordinator. Instead, he will assume those duties with the 49ers while also overseeing the entire operation as head coach. Shanahan has been an NFL offensive coordinator for eight seasons, including the past two under Quinn with the Falcons.

“He is one of the few coaches who has a full understanding – run game, offensive line, quarterback play, receiver play,” Quinn said of Shanahan. “You could put him into any spot on the offense, and he’ll be able to coach that position. That’s a rare trait. There are some guys who are sto strong in one area. It might be in the run game or so strong in the pass game. But he has a really clear understanding how to do the whole thing.

“I never like to see anybody leave the staff, but what I can appreciate is a guy taking a risk to say, ‘Hey, I want to give this a shot and go battle for it.’ So I’m excited for him and the opportunity he has there.”