Sharks stifled in shootout loss to Rangers

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Sharks stifled in shootout loss to Rangers

March 12, 2011

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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) The New York Rangers are finally starting to take advantage of opportunities to move up in the Eastern Conference.Brandon Dubinsky scored the winning goal in the sixth round of a shootout, lifting the Rangers to a 3-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night after others teams jostling for playoff positioning lost."I figured there'd be a chance for me and my name would come out of the hat at sometime," Dubinsky said. "It wasn't a pretty game and they had some chances. We have to be sure to win our games that are left and let the rest league figure it out."Wojtek Wolski scored the only other goal in the shootout for the Rangers, who rode 31 saves by Henrik Lundqvist through overtime for a thrilling road win. They are alone in seventh in the Eastern Conference, moving two points ahead of Buffalo and four over ninth-place Carolina after both lost Saturday.
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Wolski extended the shootout to extra rounds when he kept the Rangers alive by scoring in the third, flicking a wrist shot past Antti Niemi's stick and setting the stage for Lundqvist to close it out."I really played my game," Lundqvist said. "We were pretty calm in the third. Their top two lines are really strong, but we had two days to really think about what went wrong the other night in Anaheim. We haven't had a lot of games where were that flat, but tonight we came out really hard and strong. This game was so important for us. We needed the points."The Sharks suddenly can't seem to score in a shootout.Ryane Clowe and Ben Eager each had a goal, and Dan Boyle was the lone San Jose player to beat Lundqvist in the tiebreaker. The Sharks finished a six-game homestand with two consecutive shootout losses after falling to NHL-leading Vancouver on Thursday."We're at the point of the season now where a point isn't good enough," Boyle said. "We had our chances, for sure. You never know if that point could cost us in the end. Hopefully it doesn't."New York closed this one in dramatic fashion, too.Lundqvist had a series of saves in the final minute of the third period and overtime, and he didn't disappoint in the shootout. He allowed only Boyle's backhanded wrister to get by him. He lost his goalie stick and flung his arms in the air in frustration afterward.He was flawless from there, giving Dubinsky the chance to zip a wrister past Niemi's stick as he tried to cover the net, touching off a celebrating at center ice. The Rangers played physical throughout, much like a team trying to make a playoff push, and far different from a lackluster 5-2 loss at Anaheim on Wednesday.New York needed every bit of effort to pull out this win.Clowe gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead in the first period on a slap shot from the right side, a drive that deflected off Rangers defenseman Marc Staal and got past Lundqvist's glove for a power-play goal. Clowe tied his career high with his 22nd goal, matching his total of the 2008-09 season.Seconds later, Logan Couture was called for goaltender interference on Lundqvist, setting off a 10-man scrum with a series of pushes and punches that went unpenalized. San Jose killed off the power play, but Erik Christensen took a pass from Vinny Prospal behind the net a few minutes later and beat Niemi stick side to tie it.The end-to-end action never relented.After Clowe shattered his stick in a scramble for the puck, Michael Sauer sent a slap shot past Clowe's defenseless body and into the back of the net to put New York ahead 2-1. The Rangers almost took a two-goal advantage when Derek Stepan slipped the puck through Niemi's legs, but Justin Braun swooped in to swipe the puck away just before it crossed the goal line.That save swung the momentum back to the Sharks, who pushed up ice and peppered shots at Lundqvist. They sneaked one through to make it 2-2 moments later, when Eager redirected Torrey Mitchell's shot for a goal.Niemi got a boost from his defense that held the Rangers to only five shots in the third period and overtime. He finished with 20 saves before the shootout, and still wasn't the better goalie on this night."It's a little bit of frustration after we played so well in the third period," Sharks coach Scott McLellan said. "The will and the desire is there. We just couldn't put it past Lundqvist late."Notes: Noted agitator Sean Avery was scratched from New York's lineup for the first time this season. ... In an odd bit of scheduling, the Rangers played only two games on their West Coast trip. They will return home to face the New York Islanders on Tuesday. ... A moment of silence was held before the game for victims of the tsunami and earthquakes in Japan.

Warriors eye veteran guard Calderon after release of Weber

Warriors eye veteran guard Calderon after release of Weber

OAKLAND -- Briante Weber’s 20 days with the Warriors came to an end Saturday night, creating a roster opening expected to be filled by veteran point guard Jose Calderon.

“We think we have something in place, but it’s not finalized,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after a 112-95 victory over Brooklyn.

Calderon is in the process to be bought out by the Lakers, after which he will become a free agent. Once he clears waivers, the Warriors, according to multiple sources, will be waiting to offer a physical examination and a contract.

Though Warriors president/general manager Bob Myers stopped short of identifying Calderon by name, his insinuations late Saturday night line up with what was learned from league sources.

“You find that in the playoffs, experience matters,” Myers told CSNBayArea.com.

“I don’t want to diminish (Weber’s) contribution and say he’s not capable,” he added. “He could help a team. But I think sometimes you go with experience when going into the playoffs.”

While Weber is 24, with limited NBA experience, Calderon is 35 and has 12 seasons in the league, including three playoff appearances with two different teams. Moreover, Calderon is a career 41.1-percent 3-point shooter.

Calderon has played sparingly this season and has appeared only once, for five minutes, over the last nine games. In November, his most active month, he played in 11 games, averaging 5.5 points and 3.0 assists while shooting 54.5 percent from the field and 45.0 from beyond the arc.

Not that this made releasing Weber any easier. He had, in a short span of time, become popular with his teammates. Though Weber declined postgame interview requests, Stephen Curry spent a few minutes consoling and encouraging him.

Kerr struggled a bit in announcing that the team was releasing Weber, though the move was made by the front office in consultation with the coaching staff.

“We are making the decision thinking it’s the best thing for the team,” he said. “We make every decision based on that.

Weber played two minutes Saturday, scoring four points on 2-of-3 shooting. He logged a total of 46 minutes spread over seven games.

“He’s a good kid, did everything we asked of him,” Myers said. “But sometimes you’ve got to make tough decisions. Sometimes you’re not even right, but you make the best decision you can at the time.

“But he’s got a future in the NBA. He’ll have options. That’s the best thing about his situation. He’ll be able to choose what’s best for him.”

Sharks Jones, Tierney find more success in Vancouver in 4-1 win

Sharks Jones, Tierney find more success in Vancouver in 4-1 win

VANCOUVER – One of the more appealing NHL road cities, Vancouver dazzles with its beautiful mountain scenery and walkable downtown avenues.

The Sharks undoubtedly relish those aspects of their trips to British Columbia, but more importantly they’ve enjoyed them on a professional basis, too. San Jose won its 10th straight game at Rogers Arena on Saturday, 4-1, kicking off the final push to the playoffs with a victory coming out of the bye week.

“I think we definitely got better as the game went on, and that’s what you’re looking for,” said Mikkel Boedker, who was one of four Sharks’ goal scorers. “We came out with the win.”

Two Sharks in particular have enjoyed their recent excursions into Vancouver. 

Martin Jones was the best player on the ice, making 35 saves in his hometown. He was relied upon early as the Sharks predictably struggled to get their legs underneath them in what was their first game since last Sunday.

Jones made an impressive stop on Loui Eriksson in the first period, and in the second he stopped Jannik Hansen from point blank range with the Sharks holding a 1-0 lead. Later in the second, it was saves on Alex Edler and Hansen again that preserved San Jose’s 2-1 lead at the intermission. Vancouver was outshooting the Sharks 30-16 after 40 minutes, but trailed.

The Sharks rewarded their goalie with scores by Boedker and Logan Couture on the power play to make the final few minutes of the third period relatively easy.

“When [Jones] plays like that it gives us confidence, and we’ve just got to stick with it and keep creating chances, and we did that tonight,” said Boedker, who snapped a 19-game goal drought.

“[Jones] was our best player tonight,” coach Pete DeBoer said.

Jones improved to a perfect 4-0 in Vancouver, all in a San Jose sweater, with a 1.25 goals-against average and .959 save percentage. He spent the bye week in the area, and had several supporters in the stands.

“It’s always fun playing in front of friends and family,” Jones said. “Happy to get the win here.”

Chris Tierney is another player who seems to thrive in Vancouver. He notched a pair of assists and centered the team's most effective line, after getting his first career two-goal game here earlier this month.

His new line, featuring wingers Tomas Hertl and Joel Ward, opened the scoring in the second period, with Hertl finishing off a pass from Tierney after Ward’s breakaway attempt crept just wide of the net. Later, Tierney got a secondary assist on Patrick Marleau’s second period goal, restoring the Sharks' lead at 2-1.

“They did a good job. I thought some of those guys had our better legs early,” DeBoer said of his third line. “It took some of our veteran guys a little longer to get into it.”

Tierney, who was scoreless in eight straight games since his last time at Rogers Arena on Feb. 2, said: “I thought we generated some good chances. I think we can get better, too. We kind of talked on the bench throughout the game of what we can kind of do to improve and where each other is going to be on the ice, but it felt good playing with those guys. It’s easy to create offense with them.”

In seven career games in Vancouver, Tierney has four goals and three assists for seven points.

“Something about the Vancouver air, or Canadian air,” he said. “I always feel good when I play here.”

After dropping a 2-1 overtime decision to Boston in their final game before the break, the Sharks had a five-point lead over the rest of the division headed into a week off. Saturday’s win pushes the lead back up to five points again on Anaheim and Edmonton, and they now have games in hand on both of those teams, too.

It all adds up to a good start in what is the final stretch before the postseason, and a quest for a division title. Overall, the Sharks are 3-0-3 in their last six games, and have just one regulation loss in their last 11 (5-1-5).

“It’s huge, that’s what you play the regular season for,” said Boedker, when asked about the Sharks padding their lead. “You keep trying to gain as many points as you can, and lately we’ve had some overtime losses, but we keep gaining points.”