Sharks sweep Kings in L.A. for 3-1 series lead

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Sharks sweep Kings in L.A. for 3-1 series lead

April 21, 2011

BOX SCORE SHARKS VIDEONHLPAGE NHL SCOREBOARD
RATTO: Sharks discover cure for 3-goal lead in Game 4

LOS ANGELES (AP) The Sharks and Kings skated through a scoreless opening period. Then Scott Nichol lured Los Angeles star defenseman Drew Doughty off the ice with offsetting roughing penalties, opening the door to three straight goals by San Jose.The Kings never fully recovered.Ryane Clowe scored twice, Jason Demers added another goal in the second period and the Sharks won 6-3 on Thursday night to take a 3-1 lead in the first-round series."Nichol is the reason why they won," Kings coach Terry Murray said. "Three goals were directly responsible for Nichol's game."Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski scored in a 54-second span early in the third and Torrey Mitchell followed with his first goal of the playoffs to extend the Sharks' lead."I don't know what it is," Doughty said. "They're scoring easy goals. We're giving them tap-in goals and that's not something we usually do."The Sharks return to San Jose for Game 5 on Saturday night having swept the Kings on their home ice."It's a great opportunity," Clowe said. "You take a 3-1 lead and you're going back to home ice to wrap it up. We should be fired up and we should want to close it out right there."Los Angeles gave up 12 goals in its two home games."That's embarrassing," Jack Johnson said. "We're not going to win a game if they score six goals a game. We're a defensive team and if we're letting in that many goals we're in a lot of trouble."The Kings had a 5-on-3 for much of the final 3 minutes after Dany Heatley was penalized for tripping and Nichol got a 10-minute misconduct, but they failed to convert. The frustrated Kings got two 10-minute misconducts themselves in the closing seconds.Murray was incensed by Heatley's tripping of Alec Martinez, saying the move could have caused a broken leg or injured knee."That's a gutless move," Murray said. "You don't do that in hockey."The Kings kept their dressing room closed for more than 10 minutes afterward. Even mascot Bailey had his furry head buried in his paws as he leaned on a piece of equipment in the hallway."Terry is not happy with us," Doughty said about his coach's postgame speech. "We're not happy with each other. We got to clean it up."The teams combined for five goals in the second - two fewer than they scored in the middle period in Game 3, when the Kings blew a four-goal lead to lose 6-5 in their second overtime defeat of the series."Last game was a wild one, nobody really expected that one, but tonight was more of our game," Clowe said. "Better start, better 60 minutes and not too many ups and downs. It was a grind it down game, the game we needed to play."Antti Niemi made 35 saves while back in goal for the Sharks after being pulled for giving up four consecutive goals to the Kings before their collapse Tuesday."The thing about him, he's determined to come back with a real good one," Sharks coach Scott McLellan said. "I thought he was exceptional. In the second half of the game, he made some tremendous saves."Jonathan Quick was solid in the first period for Los Angeles, but soon fell apart in losing his second straight. He stopped 21 shots."We just weren't good enough," he said. "We let the game get away from us early in the third. That definitely wasn't us in the last two games. We got a lot to prove to ourselves and the fans."The Sharks stunned Quick with two quick goals to open the third. Thornton was waiting in front of the net and scored on Patrick Marleau's pass at 2:28, then blew kisses to the crowd in celebration of his first goal of the series.San Jose went up 5-2 on Pavelski's slap shot from the blue line at 3:22 that made it 5-2. The Sharks scored their sixth goal when Mitchell got a rebound with 8:18 to go.Los Angeles cut it to 6-3 when Alexei Ponikarovsky's shot from the left point found the top of the net with 6:49 left."Whatever happened in the third with giveaways, turnovers and lost faceoffs, that's sometimes hard to explain," Murray said.The Kings haven't won a playoff series since beating Detroit in the 2001 Western Conference quarterfinals. They are 1-9 in series when they fall behind 3-1.This time, San Jose built a 3-0 lead in the second only to have the Kings close to 3-2 by the end of the period, when they outshot the Sharks 17-10.Clowe and Demers scored 1:14 apart before Clowe added his second goal.Clowe's first goal capped a 2-on-1 when he scored behind Quick's back at 3:58. Demers made it 2-0 when he beat a fully sprawled Quick on the left side at 5:12. Both goals came with the teams skating 4-on-4 with Nichol and Doughty off for roughing."You just don't want to lose your top defenseman to a player of that stature," Murray said.With Matt Greene serving a double-minor for high-sticking, Clowe scored on the power play at 9:28. Quick swiped his left hand at the puck too late and the Sharks led 3-0.The Kings rallied with two goals later in the second. Ryan Smyth's slap shot sailed wide right and Brad Richardson came around the net to push the puck in with 9 minutes left.Justin Williams then scored off a deflection 3:56 left.NOTES: The family of Bryan Stow, the San Francisco Giants fan who was severely beaten after the Dodgers' season opener last month, attended the game as guests of both teams. The Sharks paid for the family's tickets and the Kings bought their dinner. ... Smyth has a point in all four games of the series. ... San Jose's Logan Couture, Kyle Wellwood and Ian White each had two assists. ... The announced crowd of 18,234 was the second straight standing-room only sellout. ... The Kings' Murray is one away from his 50th career playoff victory.

Despite loss, Sharks 'in a good spot' headed into bye week

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USATSI

Despite loss, Sharks 'in a good spot' headed into bye week

SAN JOSE – Despite what was technically their sixth loss in the last eight games, the Sharks seemed to put more stock in the point they gained in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Bruins on Sunday night at SAP Center, rather than the one they left on the table.

They have that luxury. 

The Sharks will enter their bye week five points ahead of Edmonton and Anaheim for first place in the Pacific Division, and figure they’re due for some time off after a short summer followed by a World Cup for some, and a brutal condensed NHL schedule for all.

“[We’ve] showed up and played hard,” Joe Pavelski said. “We’ve been in a lot of games. Games we’ve lost, we’ve battled. There hasn’t been any cheat in [our] game. Defensively, we’ve been strong. There’s a lot of good areas in our game that we like right now.”

Playing in the second of a back-to-back against a Bruins team had was coming off of its own bye week, the Sharks fell behind 1-0 on a first period goal by Ryan Spooner, but notched a Patrick Marleau equalizer in a second period in which they outshot the Bruins 16-9. An evenly played third period gave way to overtime, where Brad Marchand scored on a breakaway to give the Bruins their fourth straight win since changing head coaches.

The Sharks spoke before the weekend about finishing the final two games strong before the respite. They ended up gaining three of four points, including Saturday’s 4-1 win in Arizona, and were pleased with their effort against the Bruins as they capped off 10 games in 20 days since the All-Star break.

“It was an important push into this break,” Pete DeBoer said. “To go in up [five points] on the next closest team is a real testament to our group.”

Paul Martin said: “I thought we played pretty well, considering the back-to-back with some travel, and a team that was waiting for us.”

Perhaps the most encouraging performance came from Martin Jones, who was one of a number of Sharks players that was looking particularly fatigued lately. The goaltender entered the game with a 1-0-2 record, 4.46 goals-against average and .837 save percentage in his last four starts, including getting pulled after the first period in Boston just 10 days ago.

Jones was impressive, though, making a vital pad stop on the dangerous David Pastrnak in front of the net midway through the third period to keep it a 1-1 score.

“It was a good game. Two teams playing hard,” Jones said. “We can take a lot of positives from that one. It was a good hard game, just didn’t go our way tonight.”

Overtimes have been an issue lately, though. The Sharks have lost their last four games decided during the three-on-three, all coming within the last two weeks. As satisfied as they are with their cushion in the division, it could have been cushier.

Against the Bruins, Tuukka Rask denied Brent Burns on a two-on-one in overtime, and Marchand scored off of the ensuing faceoff, blowing the zone past Pavelski and Marc-Edouard Vlasic and corralling a long toss from Torey Krug before sliding it home.

“We get to overtime, shootouts – we expect to get that extra point,” Pavelski said. “We haven’t found it lately. We’ll just keep looking for it.”

DeBoer said: “The points are critical, they’re valuable. I don’t read a lot into [overtime decisions], we’ve won our share over the time I’ve been here. We had a chance to win tonight, too. … I concentrate on the effort, and I thought we got better as the game went on.”

Being focused and energized, as they have been most of the season to this point, shouldn’t be a problem when the season resumes next Saturday in Vancouver. The Sharks are in prime position to win their first division title since 2010-11, and a return trip to the Stanley Cup Final is a distinct possibility.

Losing six of eight won’t be nearly as acceptable coming out of the break as it apparently is going into it, but that’s not something to worry about now, even after another defeat. 

“There are some games you wish you could get back and get those points, but we’re still in a good spot,” Marleau said.

Trading Cousins is the ultimate Kingstastic move

Trading Cousins is the ultimate Kingstastic move

There was a lot of complaining about the lack of defense in this year’s All-Star Game, as though last year’s All-Star Game didn’t happen.

But the Most Valuable Player, which was putatively Anthony Davis for scoring a record 52 points in front of his home crowd, was actually the man with the fewest minutes of all.

Yes, the man, the god, The DeMarcus Cousins. The Very Definition Of A Sacramento King, By Becoming An Ex-Sacramento King.

Cousins, now the second-best player on the New Orleans Pelicans, played only two minutes Sunday, the lowest total by any All-Star since Connie Hawkins in 1971, ostensibly because he told head coach Steve Kerr he was a little ouchy, but more likely because the Kings were frantically trying to trade him and didn’t want him hurting himself in a game with even no contact whatsoever.

Not during the All-Star Break, mind you. DURING THE ALL-STAR GAME ITSELF! Adam Silver must have been vomiting hedgehogs into a bucket at the very thought.

As it turns out, the Kings, who have sworn up and down that they would never consider trading Cousins, did that very thing, closing a deal to send Cousins and forward Omri Casspi to the New Orleans Pelicans for a first and second-round pick in the upcoming draft, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway (who is likely to be waived in true Kings fashion) and 2016 first-rounder Buddy Hield.

You remember Buddy Hield. He’s the guy who clocked Cousins in the joy division going around a Cousins pick during the last Pelicans-Kings game, and got tossed for doing so.

In other words, the Kings prefer the guy who punched their best player in the goolies to their best player. This is so Kingsy.

But on the back end, Cousins’ agent, Jarinn Akana, said Cousins is disinclined to sign a long-term contract with his next team, making him a rental who could some day return to Sacramento in a Groundhog's Day remake that would cause the Oroville Dam to get up and walk off the job.

This too is so Kingsy.

This is the greatness of the Kings. They blew up the All-Star weekend during the game itself. They blew it up trying to get rid of their best player when they are within fighting distance of their first playoff spot in 11 years. They blew it up after saying they weren’t considering trading the dynamite at all.

Kingsy, Kingsy, Kingsy. It’s Kingstastic!

And the best part of it all is that the trade leaves everyone deflated and confused and ultimately angry, while the Kings undervalued their only marketable player to invest in a future they have mocked for decades.

You know what we;’re talking about. Gimme a K! Gimme an I! Gimme an N-G-S, throw an extraneous Y on the end of it what does it spell?

Yeah. Right.

It’s remarkable thing, being a King. While we have all amused ourselves with the machinations of the thick-as-two-short-planks New York Knicks and Carmelo Anthony, the Kings have been Kinging this way for most of the last 35 years.

And now, they have decided to feed their obsession with the Golden State Warriors by running even further away from them, by tossing their only bargaining chip for a future player or players that they typically ruin, and Buddy Hield, who just found out that even at these prices life can still be cruel.

Give them their due, though. The Kings could win the NBA title and hock the trophy. They could be invited to the White House when the President is off playing golf. They could increase their Forbes valuation to $5 billion and declare bankruptcy.

Because they are the Kings, and that sentence has rarely meant more than it does now.

Not because they traded Cousins. Trades happen all the time. Wilt Chamberlain got traded twice.

But the Kings handled this with all the skill of a pickpocket with feet where his hands should be. They lied unconvincingly. They talked hard business and ended up with a nebulous deal that guarantees nothing except more speculation come summer. And they have nothing else to trade between now and . . . well, whenever they stopped being so damned Kingsy.

For New Orleans, it is a roll of the dice, an attempt to make the playoffs with a two-headed monster in Cousins and Davis. It may be too much to giver, but without knowing how the Kings will screw up those picks, it remains speculative at best.

Indeed, this is subtraction by subtraction, the standard Kings deal. And whatever the Kings have gained in this trade (hey, you never know), we remain safe in saying that they did it in such a Kingsy way that they may never top this.

Until the next time they do anything at all. Never doubt the power of Kingsiness.