Cardinals leaning on surgically-repaired Carpenter in Game 2

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Cardinals leaning on surgically-repaired Carpenter in Game 2

SAN FRANCISCO Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter, really, has no business being on the mound for Monday nights Game 2 of the NLCS at AT&T Park.The 37-year-old former Cy Young Award winner wasnt supposed to pitch at all this year after undergoing a radical procedure in his right arm and neck due to something called thoracic outlet syndrome. But hell get the ball against Ryan Vogelsong as the Cards try and take a 2-0 series lead.
INSTANT REPLAY: Giants' comeback falls short
The motivation to pitch in the postseason is what drove Carpenter since even before he went under the knife in July after sitting out the entire regular season up to that point. After throwing just 17 innings in three regular season appearances in September and early October, Carpenter pitched 5.2 scoreless innings in the Cards Game 2 win over the Washington Nationals in the NLDS, working out of a few precarious situations in the process. That appearance in itself was an accomplishment, regardless of the outcome.As we came out of the surgery and started the rehab process, I felt inside that there was a shot, especially if we got to the playoffs, Carpenter said prior to Game 1.Carpenter, who had Tommy John surgery in 2007, got into some of the gory details of his surgery, which arent for the faint of heart.They go in there, they take out your first rib, which is underneath your collarbone, with a pair of hedge-clip looking things. And they also release and take out you have three scalene muscles, small little neck muscles, they take out the front one and the middle one, they get rid of those, because thats where the artery and the nerve go through when they come out of your neck.Carpenter said that he experienced extreme numbness that started in his arm before it headed north into his neck and even his face before the surgery, and described how those neck muscles became too big due to constant use over the years and that the nerves were having trouble passing through there.Cards manager Mike Matheny, a former teammate of Carpenters both in St. Louis and Toronto, credited Carpenters attitude and enthusiasm for him making it back to the field when no one on the outside realistically expected it to happen.Hes a competitor, like Ive never seen, Matheny said. The guy just finds a different gear when it becomes his turn to do something special.Of course, Carpenters impressive journey is really of no concern to the Giants, who will be trying to even up the series at 1-1 with the righty Vogelsong. The 34-year old Vogelsong pitched five innings in Game 3 of the NLDS, surrendering one run while walking three and striking out five in a no-decision that ended in a 2-1 Giants win and started their comeback against Cincinnati.Vogelsong faced the Cardinals once in the regular season, throwing seven shutout innings on just three hits in a 15-0 San Francisco win on August 8 at Busch Stadium. His success that night doesnt mean a whole lot now, though at least in his mind.For a lot of guys in that lineup, it was the first time they had seen me, he said.Vogelsong does like the fact that the game will be at home, though. His ERA at the pitcher-friendly AT&T Park this year (2.86) was a full run lower than his road ERA (3.87).Its no secret, Ive said in the past that I definitely feed off of the energy that this crowd brings. Im sure its going to be pretty intense tomorrow night. Its pretty intense on a regular season game here in the middle of June. So, tomorrow night should be extra energetic.The Giants will be looking for their first win at home in the postseason before the series shifts to St. Louis for the next three.We cant get ourselves behind the 8-ball, so to speak, like we did last time and try to fight back on the road again, Vogelsong said. It was tremendous that we did it once, and I think it would be asking a lot of us to do it again.

Sharks' depth players, Burns, snap cold streaks just in time

Sharks' depth players, Burns, snap cold streaks just in time

SAN JOSE – For at least one night, the Sharks’ depth players – most of which have been missing in action for weeks – found the scoresheet against the Rangers in a 5-4 overtime win on Tuesday.

It couldn’t have come at a better time. 

The Sharks were playing their first of what will surely be at least a few games without center Logan Couture, and are still in the hunt for a Pacific Division title with four of their six remaining games against Edmonton and Calgary – teams they are trying to fend off to earn home ice in the first round. And, of course, they ended a wretched six-game losing streak in which they never had a lead in any of the defeats.

Coach Pete DeBoer mentioned earlier in the week that the coaching staff had challenged the depth players to do more, especially now that their second line center is out indefinitely. The response on Tuesday included two goals from Chris Tierney (including a late game-tying score), one goal and one assist from Jannik Hansen, a shorthanded goal by Melker Karlsson, two assists from Mikkel Boedker, and an assist from Tomas Hertl.

Consider the challenge met.

“We want to score. All the depth guys know, and talked about stepping up,” Tierney said. “It's good that we broke through tonight, especially with Logan out of the lineup. We're going to have to keep doing it throughout the playoffs."

DeBoer said the internal challenge “didn’t involve much more than just ‘Hey, we need some contributions from you.’ We can’t always look to the big guys to get the job done. We got that tonight. Those guys got on the board. It’s never a lack of effort with that group, but we’re the sum of our parts. We need those guys to get on the board for us on a regular basis and they did that tonight.”

It was also surely welcomed that one of their big guys – perhaps their biggest – got the overtime winner. Brent Burns had been mired in a 16-game drought without a goal, but his slap shot got through Henrik Lundqvist half-a-minute into an overtime power play.

While the depth guys will need to continue to produce, the Sharks are going to need more from Burns, too, as the postseason approaches. The defenseman had been kept off of the scoresheet in nine of 10 games from March 5 – 21, but now has one point in each of his last three games. That’s a good sign.

Getting a goal was particularly nice, as was ending the losing skid.

“Yeah on both accounts,” Burns said. “That was a big win, especially coming back, staying resilient, getting that big goal there at the end.”

Still, with all that went right, the game was far from perfect. The Sharks allowed a 3-1 second period lead to turn into a 4-3 deficit in just a span of five minutes and seven seconds, indicating they’re still a bit fragile. Derek Stepan made it 3-2 late in the second with a power play goal, Jesper Fast scored on a deflection early in the third, and J.T. Miller gave New York its first lead of the night less than five minutes into the final frame.

“There’s still room for improvement, definitely,” Joe Pavelski said.

Still, the Sharks fought back for Tierney’s late game-tying goal with less than two minutes in regulation, setting up Burns’ overtime heroics. 

The captain sensed some displeasure from the home fans due to the blown lead, something he surely understood, but indicated that the energy level on the Sharks’ bench was still high.

“Whether you think, like, ‘Here we go again’ or not – I’m sure someone in this building thought that tonight,” Pavelski said. “Guys just kind of stuck with it, and we believed we would tie it up tonight.”

Getting that extra point in overtime brought a sense of relief.

“When you lose six straight, it's obviously a relief when you win one,” Martin Jones said. “But win or lose, we played a lot better tonight.”

 

Instant Replay: Sharks rally late, stun Rangers in OT to end skid

Instant Replay: Sharks rally late, stun Rangers in OT to end skid

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE – Despite blowing a two-goal lead, the Sharks found a way to tie their game with the Rangers late and win it in overtime, 5-4, to end their losing streak at six games on Tuesday night at SAP Center.

After New York had turned a 3-1 deficit into a 4-3 lead, Chris Tierney knotted the score with just 2:15 left in regulation. Mikkel Boedker’s shot from high in the zone rattled around the slot, and Tierney was there to flip it home for his second of the night.

Brent Burns ended a 16-game goal drought with a power play goal at 3:10 in overtime, overpowering Henrik Lundqvist with a slap shot.

After Tierney had given San Jose a 3-1 lead earlier in the second period the Sharks kept up the pressure, recording seven of the next eight shots. But Patrick Marleau’s interference penalty on Jimmy Vesey gave New York a late power play and turned the game in their favor.

Derek Stepan – who was stopped on a partial breakaway midway through the first period – brought the Rangers back to within 3-2. Mats Zuccarello hummed a seam pass through Justin Braun to Stepan, who had an open net to deposit his 16th of the season in the final minutes of the second period.

In the third, Jesper Fast redirected a Brady Skjei floater at 1:24, tying the game at 3-3. A Burns tripping minor during four-on-four play offered a power play to the Rangers, and they capitalized on a J.T. Miller one-timer at 4:44, his second of the night.

The Sharks remain two points back of Anaheim for first place in the Pacific Division, and are tied with Edmonton for second.

For the first time in eight games the Sharks struck first. A newly configured third line of Tomas Hertl, Boedker and Jannik Hansen scored on its first shift together, as Hansen chopped in a loose puck at 1:44. Boedker and Hertl both got assists, ending pointless streaks of 10 games and 12 games, respectively.

Hansen’s first goal as a Shark also gave the team its first lead in more than two weeks, as it never led throughout its six-game regulation losing streak.

The Rangers tied it at 13:30 of the first on a goal by Miller, who took the puck from Paul Martin along the wall and lifted a perfectly placed wrist shot over Martin Jones’ near shoulder.

Melker Karlsson, returning from an eight-game absence, put the Sharks ahead 2-1 late in the first period with a shorthanded score. He whizzed a wrist shot past countryman Lundqvist at 18:01 while on a two-on-one with Tierney.

Tierney increased the lead to 3-1 in the middle frame, taking a shot from the slot and following up his own rebound at 11:38. It was just his second goal in the last 22 games, and eighth of the year.

The Rangers won the only other game of the season series back on Oct. 17 at Madison Square Garden, 7-4. The Sharks finished the season with a 21-7-4 mark against Eastern Conference clubs.

The Sharks were without Logan Couture, who is out indefinitely with a facial injury.

Special teams

Two of New York’s goals came on the power play, on three opportunities. The Sharks are 11-for-15 on the PK in the last six games.

San Jose had just one power play before overtime, failing to score. Karlsson’s marker was his second shorthanded score of the season, and the Sharks’ seventh as a team.

In goal

After allowing a career high seven goals-against on Saturday in Nashville, Jones made 24 saves on 28 shots.

Lundqvist suffered the loss with 30 saves on 35 shots.

Lineup

Micheal Haley served a one-game suspension for punching Nashville’s Calle Jarnkrok on Saturday.

Tierney (upper body) and Marc-Edouard Vlasic (flu) both returned after missing Saturday’s game with the Predators. Marcus Sorensen came out of the lineup for Kevin Labanc, who was recalled on Tuesday morning and skated on the top line.

New York’s Skjei had three assists.

Up next

The Sharks have six games remaining in the regular season – two each against Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver.

A three-game road trip against each of those division rivals begins on Thursday with the Oilers, as the clubs battle for home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, and continues on Friday against the Flames and Sunday versus the Canucks.