Sharks drop Game 4, Canucks in command


Sharks drop Game 4, Canucks in command

BOX SCORETim Panaccio

SAN JOSE -- Northern California has seen its share of cataclysmic events over the last two centuries.

Devastating earthquakes, floods, mudslides, even rock concert mayhem with the Hells Angels.

This was different.

This was on ice inside the Shark Tank.

The Vancouver Canucks scored three, 5-on-3 power play goals in succession Sunday afternoon for a 4-2 victory that ripped the dorsal fins off the Sharks in the Western Conference Final, giving them an imposing 3-1 series lead.

RELATED: No official word on Thornton's status after big hit

Alain Vigneaults club can clinch Tuesday in Vancouver.

You could spend a lifetime watching hockey and never see three, two-man advantage goals in succession. Turns out, it was a Stanley Cup playoff record for three in a period, in a game, in succession, and in just 1:55.

Thats not the half of it.

What truly makes it cataclysmic is that the Sharks had five count 'em! five power play chances in the first 24 minutes of play and failed to score, much less register a truly good scoring chance on Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo.

We dont score, they get three 5-on-3s and score, its as simple as that, said a frustrated Dan Boyle. We didnt score. Yesterday, youre asking me why the power play's so hot. Its gone. We dont score. Bottom line. Thats it.

Compounding the loss, Sharks captain Joe Thornton took a shoulder-to-shoulder hit from Raffi Torres with 11 minutes left in play, and never came back. There was no injury update, either.

Can anyone see the Sharks winning an elimination game if their best player -- Thornton -- isnt available?

Incredibly, Vancouver had just four shots on Antti Niemi during the decisive second period power play outburst that made it 3-0.

I cant remember a series with so many penalties, its crazy, San Jose's Ryane Clowe said. And then all of the sudden, in the third period, oh, were gonna let you play. It makes no sense to me. That many 5-on-3s for that amount of time, Ive never seen it before.

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Sharks coach Todd McLellan said it was a first for him, but I can't sit here and whine and bitch about the officiating, because it had absolutely nothing to do with it. It was the team in the white that created that mess.

Did we mention the Sedin twins -- Daniel and Henrik -- had six assists between them during those 5-on-3s and finished with seven points?

McLellan changed his lines in the third period, using Joe Pavelski between Clowe and Devin Setoguchi to generate some scoring. He then moved Logan Couture to Thorntons line with Patrick Marleau.

Didnt help.

The first phase of the game was when we had our powerplay opportunities, and we obviously weren't very sharp, McLellan said. They tightened things up. They stood at their line a little bit better.

But when you look at our execution, our passing, our faceoff opportunities to win pucks, we started breaking out all the time. You have to, when you're against the No. 1 penalty kill in the league, you have to be sharp -- and we weren't.

It was as simple as that. As you start rolling, you get more and more frustrated, you start to press a little bit. It snowballs, it gets worse and worse.

Vancouver got an early goal in the third, but the Sharks responded with a goal from Andrew Desjardins and then Clowe. Too little, far too late.

It was a way sloppier game from us, Douglas Murray said. we have to be sharper in our execution and take less penalties, which was something we addressed before the game. We did it to ourselves.

San Jose came into the game a scorching 6-for-13 on the power play. If the Sharks get one, maybe two goals, this game and this series probably goes the other way.

Our entries werent very good and we lost a lot of faceoffs, Couture said. They were able to clear the puck. When you get five straight power plays, youve got to score at least once. They turned around and scored on theirs.

The Canucks were far more aggressive on the penalty kill while the Sharks struggled to set up, rarely getting point shots. San Jose attacked from the right side every time on the power play, shooting to Luongos glove hand. All Vancouver had to do was overshift and force turnovers, which it did.

The first one, they were very aggressive, they were just better than we were, Boyle said. The other ones, we just werent sharp. The puck was bouncing around, not that that was an excuse. Execution, that was it.

The Canucks began the first period with a penalty and ended it with one thanks to Torres needless charge into Murray that gave San Jose a clean sheet of ice and full power to start the second period.

Not that it mattered, because the Sharks looked disorganized with the puck.

Unlike the Sharks, the Canucks didnt need five chances on the power play to score.

Just one. Which led to another and another and it was over.

You cant quibble with the calls, either: a Dany Heatley high-stick, followed by Torrey Mitchells hook, followed by too many Sharks on the ice for a bench minor, followed by Murrays delay-of-game with a puck out of play.

Vancouver used tape-to-tape, perfect passes to dazzle the Sharks overmatched penalty kill units. Marc-Edouard Vlasic was on the ice for all three goals; Murray for two.

You shoot the puck over the glass, it cant happen, Murray said. Theres no excuse for it. Ive never seen it three, 5-on-3s before but to be honest, I havent seen the calls, either

Ryan Kesler got the first goal at 9:16 for his sixth playoff marker, then Sami Salo, who had just one goal in the entire playoffs, scored twice more, making it 3-0. His right-handed shot was huge there.

Two and a half minutes of straight 5on3, having Salo there gave us a completely different look, McLellan said. We saw it late in the 5on3. But a righthanded shot and a onetimer off the side that they like to work

Vancouvers puck handling despite bad ice was simply far better than the Sharks, too.

They made great plays, Murray said. That second one, they get it through. You kinda know the plays theyre running but you cant cover everything. They did a better job executing than we did.

Process this game, get over it tonight and make a better effort a couple days from now. This team is definitely capable of winning three games. But right now, we have to win one.
Tim Panaccio is the NHL Insider for E-mail him at

A's spring training Day 9: Alcantara trying to add new wrinkle

A's spring training Day 9: Alcantara trying to add new wrinkle

MESA, Ariz. — Right-hander Raul Alcantara, who could factor in as a starting or long relief option for the A’s, is experimenting with a split-finger fastball this spring.

Alcantara, who made five late-season starts last season in his first big league call-up, threw the pitch for the first time to hitters Tuesday, so he’s still in the infant stages with it. The A’s would like Alcantara to develop a solid third pitch to go with his fastball and changeup, though he does dabble with a curve and cutter too.

“In general, we’re looking for a ball that’s gonna dive, something where the bottom’s gonna fall out,” Oakland bullpen coach Scott Emerson said.

Alcantara, 24, faces crowded competition for the No. 5 starter spot with Jesse Hahn, Andrew Triggs and Paul Blackburn among those also going for it. Claiming the last spot in a seven-man bullpen is a possibility, though the A’s could surely utilize a second left-hander to go along with Sean Doolittle.

Making Alcantara’s case more interesting is that he’s out of minor league options, meaning he would need to make it through waivers unclaimed before the A’s could send him down.

Alcantara throws a hard changeup that clocked 86-87 miles per hour last season. Ideally, Emerson said his splitter would settle in the low 80’s.

Speaking through interpreter Juan Dorado, Alcantara said he’s gradually getting a feel for the new pitch.

“Obviously it’s a little more difficult on the hitters to know that there’s a different pitch,” he said. “They’re used to me throwing a fastball, a cutter and a change, and now implementing a split would just help me out to show them something different.”

CAMP BATTLE: Lefty Ross Detwiler, who re-signed with Oakland in the winter on a minor league deal, offers depth as a potential swing man who can start or relieve. Detwiler went 2-4 with a 6.14 ERA in nine games (seven starts) last season for the A’s. Those numbers look ugly in a short sample size, but Melvin values the veteran beyond what the stats show.

“I think he liked being here and we wanted him back.”

QUOTABLE: “I must be a little behind this year because the guys are hitting me a little harder than they normally do. Healy took me over the batter’s eye three times in a row.” — Melvin, who throws a couple rounds of batting practice every day.

NOTEWORTHY: The A’s will hold a pair of two-inning intrasquad games Thursday at the Lew Wolff Training Complex, with both set to start at 11:40 a.m.

49ers assistant GM Gamble leaving organization

49ers assistant GM Gamble leaving organization

The San Francisco 49ers Wednesday announced that Tom Gamble is leaving the organization. 

“The 49ers organization has tremendous respect and appreciation for Tom Gamble and his many years of service,” said General Manager John Lynch. “He is a class act who has helped a great deal in this transition, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know him. After working together over the last month, Tom and I agreed that it would be in both of our best interests for him to pursue other opportunities. Tom is a true professional and we wish him and his family great success in the future.”
“I must thank Jed, the York family and the entire 49ers organization for the wonderful memories they provided me and my family, but it is time I move on,” said Gamble. “This past month, I have had the pleasure of working alongside John Lynch and the talented staff he has assembled. The team is in capable hands and I wish them nothing but the best.”

Gamble, who recently completed his 29th NFL season and 10th with the 49ers, returned to the team in January of 2015 as the senior personnel executive and was later named assistant general manager on July 25, 2016. He spent the 2013-14 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles as vice president of player personnel. Gamble originally joined the 49ers in 2005 and spanned eight seasons with San Francisco including two as the director of player personnel (2011-12). He oversaw both the college and pro personnel efforts of the 49ers. As the 49ers director of pro personnel from 2005-10, Gamble monitored every NFL roster with an emphasis on scouting talent of upcoming pro free agents, while also maintaining continuous depth of personnel on the team’s roster.

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