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.

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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

Giants get blanked by Braves, now have lowest-scoring team in majors

Giants get blanked by Braves, now have lowest-scoring team in majors

SAN FRANCISCO — Over in Cleveland earlier Friday, Brandon Moss hit a three-run homer for the visiting team and five other players chipped in a pair of hits. The Royals had six runs, which meant that when Jim Johnson closed the Giants out a few hours later, what has seemed true all season became officially true. The Giants have the lowest-scoring lineup in the majors.

At 3.32 runs per game, they have dipped below the equally-disappointing Royals (3.38). They are capable at the moment of making any pitching staff look dominant. A 2-0 shutout was the first of the year for the Braves, who previously had just two games this season where they allowed fewer than two runs. 

“Six runs in (the last) four games … I thought we would come home and get some rips in tonight, but it didn’t happen,” Bruce Bochy said. 

The manager’s frustration showed late in this one. After the only rally of the game — a two-run single by opposing pitcher Jaime Garcia — Bochy took his cap off and rubbed his forehead. He dipped his head and briefly stood as if he was going to fall asleep on the rail. The bats were equally still. 

The Giants had just four hits, all of them singles against Garcia, who is a nice pitcher but hardly one of the league’s best. One was an infield single by Eduardo Nuñez, another a single through Garcia’s five-hole, and a third a generous ruling by the official scorekeeper. 

“It comes down to, you’ve got to get some hits and create opportunities, and we’re not doing it very often,” Bochy said. “It’s just a matter of guys getting somewhat hot. We did, we had some success, and we won some games. The thing you like to see is some good cuts and I didn’t think we got enough of those tonight.”

That run, which spanned the last homestand and small parts of two road trips, has come to a screeching halt. The Giants have lost five of six. It seems silly to scoreboard-watch in May, especially when a team is playing like this, but it’s worth noting that the teams the Giants eventually need to catch keep winning. They fell 12 games back of the Rockies and 11 back of the streaking Diamondbacks. They are 9 1/2 back of the Dodgers, who might be the best team in the whole league. 

Matt Cain did his part to allow the Giants to keep pace. He got beat just once in seven sharp innings. The Giants intentionally walked Dansby Swanson to get to Garcia, who bounced a single into left. Brandon Belt had a play at the plate, but his throw was short and hit the runner. A second run scored. 

“That’s tough,” Cain said. “(Garcia) was throwing the ball really good and that’s what it comes down to, you’re looking for that one hit and he did it. He’s a good hitter. We’ve seen it in St. Louis. But it definitely is tough when the pitcher does that … it just stinks on my part to give up a hit to the opposing pitcher.”

Lowrie's big hit sparks A's, gets road trip started right

Lowrie's big hit sparks A's, gets road trip started right

NEW YORK — Jed Lowrie is the counterpoint to the A’s home run-crazed offensive attack.

Sure, the A’s switch-hitting second baseman can muscle up and clear the fence. But Lowrie’s approach is more about spraying base hits all around and using the whole field. He was at it again in Friday’s 4-1 A’s victory over the Yankees, going 3-for-4 and delivering an RBI single that snapped a scoreless tie in the eighth.

“I always have to carry his glove out to second for him because he’s always on base,” shortstop Adam Rosales said. “He looks really good at the plate right now, and he’s kind of just putting us on his back. It’s contagious to see a guy like that doing so well.”

Lowrie bumped his average up to .310 with Friday’s game. Until he grounded out in the sixth, he’d notched hits in seven consecutive at-bats dating back to Tuesday night. That streak fell one shy of the A’s record for most consecutive hits. Three players share the record at eight — Josh Reddick (in 2016), Dave Magadan (1997) and Brent Gates (1994).

“It’s all about the work,” said Lowrie, whose 15 doubles are tied for third in the AL. “Everything comes together when you’re seeing it well. I’m seeing it well but the approach hasn’t changed.”

With two runners aboard and two out in the eighth, Lowrie punched an RBI single to right off Tyler Clippard for the game’s first run. It was the breakthrough the A’s needed after they’d struck out 13 times in seven innings against Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka. Khris Davis followed Lowrie’s hit by beating out an infield single to score another run. Then Stephen Vogt added a two-run homer in top of the ninth to make it 4-0, and that provided some cushion as closer Santiago Casilla gave up a run and made things tenser than they should have been in the bottom half.

Davis, the most fearsome hitter in Oakland’s lineup, is thrilled to have a productive Lowrie batting in front of him as the No. 3 man.

“Somebody’s gotta hit .300,” Davis said. “All year he’s been our most consistent hitter and best hitter. I hope he keeps going.”

The A’s have won four in a row at Yankee Stadium dating back to last year. It’s their longest winning streak in the Bronx since a four-gamer at the old stadium in 2006. And it was a good way to begin a seven-game road trip for the A’s, who came in with the league’s worst road record at 6-15.


Rosales had puffiness under his right eye and said he was anticipating a shiner after his hard head-first dive into third base didn’t go as planned in the eighth. He scraped up his face pretty good after going first to third on an errant pickoff throw and taking a hard dive into third, only to find the dirt wasn’t giving.

After addressing reporters, Rosales said he was on his way to find an ice pack.