Sharks collapse in Gm. 2, blitzed by Canucks 7-3

473084.jpg

Sharks collapse in Gm. 2, blitzed by Canucks 7-3

May 18, 2011

BOX SCORE SHARKS VIDEONHLPAGE NHLSCOREBOARDBOX SCORE SERIES SCHEDULE
Tim Panaccio
CSNCalifornia.com

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Ben Eager was fuming.

He couldnt get to Kevin Bieksa, who had already pasted Patrick Marleau in a fight.

Ah, but the Sharks' enforcer could get to Daniel Sedin, since his coach, Todd McLellan was rotating Eager throughout his lineup.

RELATED: Marleau puts up his dukes in vain

When Eager slammed the big Swede into the side boards with an unnecessary boarding penalty late in the second period, the entire complexion of Game 2 of the Western Conference Final changed.

And along with it, perhaps any chance of the Sharks coming back in this series after Wednesdays 7-3 decimation at Rogers Arena.

Although the Sharks killed off the boarding minor, Eager then took a bad tripping call in what was a one-goal game.

Chris Higgins scored a third period power play goal, before Daniel Sedin answered with another to blow things apart as the enraged Canucks buried the Sharks, turning a 3-2 lead into a rout. It places the Sharks in an 0-2 tank, with no water.

Ben Eager is one of our faster forwards, one of our more physical forwards, McLellan said. I think he has the ability to win battles and create scrums. I do believe the other team knows when he's on the ice.

Now, the negative. He can't march to the penalty box on an ongoing basis. The tradeoff obviously didn't work in our favor.

Marleau, trying to inspire his teammates who were hemmed into their own end nearly the entire second period, gave himself up to inspire teammates. They didnt respond.

Yeah, you know, weve seen that before with Kevin, Eager said. Its sad that someones got to sign him for big money when hes a phony. He goes after our top player, and hes been asked to fight many times before ... lots of players throughout the league and hes declined, so ...

RATTO: Don't hang Gm. 2 crash on Eager

Bieksa wouldnt fight Eager, but the bottom line is the hit on Sedin was entirely unnecessary. It woke a sleeping giant and enraged the Canucks.

I was out there to finish my check; I finish all my checks, Eager said. I went to close on him. He knows what he was doing there. He turned his back ... We killed that penalty. That last tripping penalty, I know it cost us and let the team down there.

McLellan defended Eager, saying he didnt cross the line, but admitted his team lost its composure with 13 penalties in the game -- nine in the last period.

They had more battle in their game than we did, McLellan said. This time of the year, when you have more battle and more of a tenacity to your game, you're going to win.

I thought maybe ... we got a little frustrated because we wanted to even the score on the Marleau fight. That was Ben Eager taking a run at one of the Sedins. It probably grew from there a little bit.

But at this point, you've got to have your emotions in check. You've got to maintain some composure.

In case youre wondering, the last team to win a Stanley Cup down 0-2 in a conference final was the 1991 Pittsburgh Penguins. That team had Mario Lemieux, Kevin Stevens, Joey Mullen and Mark Recchi.

These Sharks have Joe Thornton, Marleau, and ... well, lets just say, theyre not the Penguins.

Interestingly, McLellan said some of his players -- who should have raised their games and responded -- disappeared.

There's a few people in our group, and I'm not going to hide them anymore, they have to ask themselves whether or not they want to keep on competing, McLellan said.

Thornton singled out Marleau as the only player who sacrificed himself for his teammates. San Jose's captain called Marleau a gamer.

Its too bad we didnt have a bunch more gamers tonight, Thornton said. The game would have been different.

Logan Couture agreed.

"Pattys a leader, he said. People dont see that. Its good to see him step up. Hes a quiet guy and he doesnt show his emotion too much. We all see how badly he wants to win. He stepped up and made a statement tonight which was good for the rest of us. Unfortunately, we didnt follow through."

Instead, the Sharks and goalie Antti Niemi were hammered with four goals in the final period -- two on the power play.

San Jose has now been outscored 29-13 in its last eight conference final games (going back to 2004) and is 0-6 in the conference finals over the last two years.

You lose 7-3, not many people play well, Couture said. I didnt play well. The list goes on. Its embarrassing. Its the only word that comes to mind.

Youre in the conference finals and the Stanley Cup playoffs, you put an effort out like that. You cant feel bad for yourselves but you feel bad for the fans and the coaching staff that we gave an effort like that.

Much like Game 1, the Sharks came out fine and again scored the games first goal only to see Vancouver come back with two goals in 39 seconds to stun them.

Couture, whose line matched up against the Sedin twins (Henrik and Daniel), came up with the first goal at 2:28 when Dany Heatley gave Couture a perfect pass down the slot, allowing him to split the Vancouver defense of Sami Salo and Alexander Edler.

Not even seven minutes later, Henrik had the puck in the slot, turned and passed up a shot for his brother, Daniel, who whipped the puck past Niemi to tie it on the power play -- one of the power play goals the Sharks porous penalty-kill units allowed.

The Canucks took the lead on the very next shift, pinning the Sharks into their own end with Christian Ehrhoff backhanding the puck into the slot for a tap-in goal by Raffi Torres.

Just like that, the Canucks had a 2-1 lead, along with the momentum.

Marleau is a streaky scorer. If he gets one in the playoffs, he usually gets a couple. Marleau got his third goal in three games -- going back his Game 7 game-winner against Detroit -- to re-tie it at 14:02.

Then came the brutal middle period when the Sharks had no opportunities whatsoever.
Couture had a shot on Roberto Luongo 15 seconds in. Their next shot came at 10:01 by Joe Pavelski.

No rushes up ice. No grinding forecheck where the larger Sharks could use their size. And no puck cycling. In other word, no offense.

The period resembled the middle one in Game 1 when Niemi was under siege. The siege produced a back-breaking goal from Bieksa on a breakaway, stretch pass from Higgins. We kid you not.

The Canucks' third line of Ryan Kesler centering Higgins and Torres has made a critical difference in both games.

"Not fun. Embarrassing, Couture said. You look at the last 6-7 games weve played, were just not playing well. Were not playing the way we should be in the playoffs. Tonight was just embarrassing. Hopefully, it wakes us up a little bit."
Tim Panaccio is the NHL Insider for CSNPhilly.com E-mail him at tpanotch@comcast.net

Warriors bury Clippers rivalry with 50-point barrage in third quarter

Warriors bury Clippers rivalry with 50-point barrage in third quarter

OAKLAND -- The Warriors-Clippers rivalry, dead for a couple years, was buried 50 points deep Thursday night.

There were, and may always be, occasional fits of temper in which both players and officials will be tested. That surely was the case during the Warriors’ 123-113 victory over LA at Oracle Arena.

But scoring 50 points in 12 minutes, as the Warriors did in the third quarter, is a rather emphatic statement that serves as its own embellishment. It sent the Clippers back home, unable to muster even a half-hearted comeback.

“That was incredible,” Kevin Durant said of third-quarter scoring frenzy.

“That’s a lot of points,” Klay Thompson said. “It’s that the most we’ve had all season?”

Well, yes, it is. The Warriors’ previous high for points in a quarter was 45, also against the Clippers, on Jan. 28.

So this was astonishing even to the Warriors, the highest-scoring team in the NBA for three seasons running. This is the Warriors’ fourth 50-point quarter in franchise history and their first since March 1989. They made nine 3-pointers, tying a franchise record for triples in a quarter.

Fifties are rare, period; the last one by any team in the NBA was on March 25, 2014, when the Lakers dropped 51 in a quarter against the Knicks.

“I had no idea we scored that much,” said Stephen Curry, who scored 20 in the quarter -- 17 in the final 3:37 before halftime. “Obviously, coming back from 12 down to having a double-digit lead, it all started with the defensive end and finding transition.”

The scoring breakdown: Curry scored 20, Durant 15, Thompson 5, Andre Iguodala and Zaza Pachulia 4 each and JaVale McGee 2. The Warriors shot 73.9 percent (17-of-23) in the quarter.

“It all started from our defense, getting rebounds and getting out in transition,” Durant said.

The Warriors forced five LA turnovers in the quarter, off which they scored 11 points. Trailing by 12 at the half, they led by 12 entering the fourth quarter.

The Warriors have defeated the Clippers 10 consecutive times overall. They’ve beaten them 11 straight times at Oracle Arena. The average margin of victory in four games this season is 21.5 points.

This was a matter of how the Warriors responded to the threat posed by LA in the first half.

“I’m not sure what needed to happen,” Draymond Green said. “But I know we took that quarter over. And it was pretty spectacular.”

With Clippers rivalry over, Warriors feed off feud with Foster

With Clippers rivalry over, Warriors feed off feud with Foster

This will come as a sharp blow to Warrior fans who like things the way they are, but they probably can no longer use Scott Foster as an alibi for failure, or a stalking horse for rage.
 
Well, I mean they can, but let’s be honest here – the evidence just doesn’t support it any more.
 
Foster, who no matter what you say is one of the elite officials in the league, has also been cast as a bête noire by all things Golden State. Either he’s imperious, or he’s standoffish, or he makes himself too conspicuous – they’re all standard complaints made of all officials who aren’t otherwise branded as just plain terrible.
 
Only Foster isn’t terrible, given the fact that he has worked a series of NBA Finals, and that remains the gold standard for officiating.
 
But the Warriors bang their heads against the backboard when he works their games, and were on the verge of doing that again Thursday night against the Los Angeles Clippers. Foster called third quarter technicals on Andre Iguodala and the Warrior bench, and J.T. Orr called one on Draymond Green, all in the space of 6:34. The Warriors were unhinged, the fans were unhinged, innocent bystanders were being hit with flying hinges throughout the arena.
 
And in that stretch, the Warriors outscored the Clippers, 26-15, en route to a 50-point quarter (the first in two seasons and the third since the turn of the millennium) and another harsh slapdown of what used to be known as the Warriors-Clippers Cavalcade Of Hate, this time 123-113.
 
It isn’t that any more, not close. Truth is, the Warriors have won 10 consecutive games against the Clips, but probably never quite at decisively as this. At the game’s most lopsided stretch, Golden State outscored Los Angeles, 72-33, in a shade over 17 minutes.
 
Because that’s what they do.
 
Only this time, the comeback was not fueled by the existence of the Clippers, who had outplayed them pretty convincingly for the first 22 minutes and change, but with the officials, who as we have said before irk the hell out of them when their number includes Foster.
 
Who, again, is one of the game’s best officials. I think it’s a personality clash, to be frank, in which both sides can take some blame.
 
Truth is, though, when a team can go for 50 in a quarter and still have time to engage in a feud with the officials, it is making a kinky little statement about what they can do when enraged, and how difficult it is to stop them when they have a serious mad-on.
 
Yes, it is probably stretching a point to make this case, especially when the Warriors make 17 of 23 shots (9 of 15 from three) and assist on 13 of the 17 field goals. It is probably minimizing Stephen Curry’s 20-point quarter and his four assists, or Kevin Durant’s 15 and five rebounds, or David West imposing his body between Green and the officials to keep him from getting T’d up again for the second successive game.
 
But we have already established that rivalries are dying at their feet left and right. In the last three years the Clippers have gone from the Warriors’ arch-enemies to a team that has finished an aggregate 44 games behind the Dubs in the standings, making whatever animosity they can still stir 

Against the Clips a curio of a much earlier time. The Oklahoma City Thunder have come and gone, and even the Durant-Russell Westbrook has lost its last bit of elasticity.
 
Oh, there is still Cleveland, but that cannot be resumed for another 14 weeks at the earliest.
 
The Warriors, in short, have run out of opponents, and given that they will manufacture a foe when one does not otherwise exist, Scott Foster may have to serve for the time being, even if he is nothing but an intermittent prop to amuse the customers when the game cannot provide.
 
Though you’d have to think the third quarter Thursday makes that pretty thin oatmeal. The Warriors ate an entire game in 12 minutes, including the officials. They seemed like they got their fill.