Sharks limp in to Big D for another test

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Sharks limp in to Big D for another test

March 15, 2011

SHARKS (39-23-8) vs.
DALLAS (37-24-8)

Coverage begins at 5 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet California

DALLAS (AP) -- The San Jose Sharks have a rather tenuous lead in the Pacific Division. They certainly won't be able to hold that lead if they keep playing anything like they did the last time they hit the ice.

The Dallas Stars know they can't afford too many more losses if they hope to catch San Jose.
RELATED: NHL Conference standings

Two of the teams vying for the title in the tightly-packed Pacific square off Tuesday night in Dallas, where the Stars can pull within two points of the Sharks with a fifth victory in six meetings against their division rivals.

San Jose (39-23-8) seemed to be pulling away in the Pacific on March 3, when it stretched its winning streak to eight by beating Detroit. That victory - the Sharks' 17th in 20 games - gave them a six-point division lead.

What was the NHL's hottest team has cooled down over the past 10 days. San Jose is 1-2-2 in a five-game stretch that began when it fell 3-2 to Dallas (37-24-8) on March 5, with Monday's 6-3 loss at Chicago its first defeat by more than one goal since Jan. 13.

WATCH: Highlights -- Chicago 6, Sharks 3

"If I was going to sum up the game: They skated and we glided," coach Todd McLellan said.

"We were looking for a win the easy way. I don't know why we chose that route tonight, but it's not the recipe we've followed for success."

Los Angeles and Phoenix are three points behind the Sharks for the division lead, while Dallas sits four points back. Both the Kings and Stars have one game in hand.

Dallas could have gone into Tuesday's game with a chance to pull even had things gone differently Sunday against Los Angeles. Jamie Langenbrunner tied the score with 43 seconds left, but the Kings' Michal Handzus scored with 20.8 seconds remaining to deal the Stars a tough 3-2 loss.

RELATED: Handzus' last-minute goal stuns Dallas

It was Dallas' first regulation defeat following a 6-0-2 stretch, but coach Marc Crawford didn't sound overly concerned.

"It was a well-played game, very much like a playoff game with the hitting and the intensity," Crawford told the NHL's official website. "We're going to be better for this. We just have to again not be disparaged by it and even though it is disheartening, we have to move forward from it."

Each of the four meetings in this season series has been decided by one goal, including a shootout and a 4-3 San Jose overtime victory Dec. 16 at Dallas, thanks to Logan Couture's power-play tally. That's the Sharks' only win in their last five tries against the Stars.

Perhaps Dallas' biggest edge has come with the man advantage. The Stars have gone 4 for 11 (36.4 percent) on the power play in the season series, while Couture's overtime winner was San Jose's only success in 16 chances (6.3 percent).

The Sharks are 30-9-3 when they score a power-play goal and 9-14-5 when they don't.

San Jose scored the game's first goal Monday before a five-goal second became its undoing in Chicago. Getting an early lead on Dallas could prove critical. The Stars are an NHL-best 28-3-2 when scoring first, and a conference-best 22-1-1 when leading after one period.

NOTES
The Stars have scored nine power-play goals and four shorthanded goals in their last nine games against the Sharks. ... The Sharks have lost three straight games (0-1-2) for the first time since their six-game losing streak January 3-13. ... As a team, the Stars have had single-digit penalty minutes in three consecutive games for the first time since January 14-18. ... The Sharks have allowed multiple power-play goals three times over their last four games, after doing so just twice over their previous 28 games. ... The Stars and Sharks are two of the three teams (Blackhawks) to have four different skaters with at least 21 goals apiece this season. ... With two assists last night in Chicago, Patrick Marleau reached 400 assists for his career -- making him the second skater to ever dish out 400 assists in a Sharks uniform. Joe Thornton passed the 400-assist plateau for the Sharks last Thursday against the Canucks.

A's spring training Day 8: Top pick AJ Puk attracts a crowd

A's spring training Day 8: Top pick AJ Puk attracts a crowd

MESA, Ariz. — The A’s are excited about 2016 top pick A.J. Puk, that much was apparent by the crowd the lefty attracted for his first “live” bullpen session Tuesday.

Among those watching closely were executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane, general manager David Forst, manager Bob Melvin and pitching coach Curt Young.

Puk, who shaved about 20 pounds off his 6-foot-7 frame over the winter, looked strong against a group of hitters that included touted infield prospects Franklin Barreto and Yairo Munoz.

Melvin in particular liked the way Puk, the No. 6 overall pick out of the University of Florida, worked his curve ball into the mix. That’s a pitch he hadn’t used since high school, but he dusted it off back in the fall instructional league with some encouragement from minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson, and he’s working to sharpen it this spring as a complement to his fastball, slider and changeup.

“It’s just nice to have another pitch that’s slower than my other three pitches,” Puk said before Tuesday’s workout.

“It’s a four-pitch mix,” Melvin said. “He’s really starting to distinguish between this slider and curve ball. It was quite a crowd around his cage too. When you’re a young kid you tend to notice that, but I thought he responded really well.”

Puk, 21, is rooming with shortstop Richie Martin, a teammate at Florida whom the A’s made their top pick in 2015. They also lived near each other in Tampa this offseason and worked out together.

Puk comes off very quiet upon meeting him, but Martin warns against being fooled.

“It takes him a while, but once he feels comfortable he’ll break out. You’ll see.”

Melvin was impressed with Puk’s physical shape, saying he’s fielded his position well in pitchers’ fielding drills.

CAMP BATTLE Jesse Hahn will start the A’s Cactus League opener Saturday against the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs. It’ll be a chance for Hahn to make an early impression in his bid for the fifth starter spot.

“After the year he had (in 2016), it’s important for him this year. We have to show some faith in him,” Melvin said. “He performed well for us the year before. Last year wasn’t really consistent. We’ll try to get him out there and get him off to a good start.”

Kendall Graveman will take the ball in Sunday’s spring home opener against the Angels. Sonny Gray and Sean Manaea both will pitch Monday against the Giants and Jharel Cotton and Andrew Triggs will be among the group throwing Tuesday against the Indians.

PROSPECT WATCH: Sean Murphy, the A’s third-round pick in June, has shown a very strong throwing arm early in camp. Is it any wonder Melvin, an ex-catcher, was impressed?

“The kid can throw, it’s special,” Melvin said. “We really like him.”

NOTEWORTHY: Still no word on when reliever Santiago Casilla will arrive at camp from the Dominican Republic. Melvin said he isn’t concerned at this stage, and noted that Casilla has been working out at the team’s complex in the Dominican Republic and gave a motivational talk to the younger players there.

Cousins thanks Sacramento: 'Wouldn't trade it for anything'

Cousins thanks Sacramento: 'Wouldn't trade it for anything'

The Kings traded DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday, prompting the All-Star big man to post a heartfelt message on his Instagram account.

Words can't even express how hard it is for me to have to leave the city of Sacramento and all of the amazing people that I have met while out here. I gave it my all for you and you gave it right back. The most amazing fans on the planet and I just want you to know that your support has meant everything to me. It's hard to believe that it was seven years ago that this young kid from Alabama showed up in Sacramento scared and not knowing a soul. As I look back upon my time here, I wouldn't trade it for anything. I have met so many amazing people, many of whom went out of their way to make me feel right at home from day one. Each and every one of you have played such an important part in my life and helping me become the person I am today. I don't just consider you all as fans, you all are my family...and a couple thousand miles aren't going to change a thing. Thank you Sacramento. 
#LoyaltyisLove #sactownkingforever

Cousins, 26, averaged 27.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.3 blocks and 34.4 minutes per game for the Kings this year.

Words can't even express how hard it is for me to have to leave the city of Sacramento and all of the amazing people that I have met while out here. I gave it my all for you and you gave it right back. The most amazing fans on the planet and I just want you to know that your support has meant everything to me. It's hard to believe that it was seven years ago that this young kid from Alabama showed up in Sacramento scared and not knowing a soul. As I look back upon my time here, I wouldn't trade it for anything. I have met so many amazing people, many of whom went out of their way to make me feel right at home from day one. Each and every one of you have played such an important part in my life and helping me become the person I am today. I don't just consider you all as fans, you all are my family...and a couple thousand miles aren't going to change a thing. Thank you Sacramento. #LoyaltyisLove

A post shared by DeMarcus Cousins (@boogiecousins) on