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.

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

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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.

Instant Replay: Bruins score in overtime, send Sharks to the break with a loss

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Instant Replay: Bruins score in overtime, send Sharks to the break with a loss

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE – The Boston Bruins skated past the San Jose Sharks on Sunday at SAP Center, 2-1 in overtime.

Brad Marchand’s breakaway goal after the Bruins won a defensive zone faceoff gave Boston the win, as Torey Krug found the forward charging towards the San Jose net. Marchand slipped the puck through Martin Jones’ five hole at 2:36.

San Jose has dropped its last four games decided in the three-on-three.

The Sharks lost for the sixth time in their last eight games (2-1-5), headed into the bye week. They will not play or practice from Monday through Friday, and resume their season on Saturday in Vancouver.

Boston extended its winning streak to four games since firing Claude Julien and naming Bruce Cassidy the interim head coach. The streak began with a 6-3 win over the Sharks at TD Garden on Feb. 9.

The Bruins were just the fourth team of 20 to win the first game after their bye week (4-12-4).

Boston scored the only goal in the first period, while the Sharks answered with a second period tally.

Ryan Spooner’s marker at 11:05 of the opening frame put Boston ahead. An Adam McQuaid point shot found Jimmy Hayes in the slot, and after Hayes fired wide of the net, Spooner tucked in the loose puck.

San Jose turned up the pressure late in the second, finally resulting in a goal by Patrick Marleau. During a four-on-four situation, Brent Burns’ wrist shot deflected right to Marleau’s tape, and he easily flipped in his 502nd career goal at 17:37.

Sharks coach Pete DeBoer shortened his bench for the third period, leaving Mikkel Boedker and Nikolay Goldobin planted on the pine. Melker Karlsson took Boedker’s place on the second line, while Chris Tierney skated on the third line with Tomas Hertl and Joel Ward.

The Sharks are 6-3-1 in the second half of back-to-backs.

Special teams

Each team had just one power play in the game, failing to convert.

The Sharks are 3-for-24 on the power play over their last eight games (12.5 percent), but a perfect 8-for-8 on the PK in their last five.

In goal

Jones was facing the Bruins just 10 days after he was pulled to start the second period in Boston when he allowed three goals on 12 shots. He allowed two goals on 27 shots.

Tuukka Rask made 29 saves for the win.

Lineup

The Sharks’ lineup was unchanged from Saturday’s win in Arizona, other than the goaltender. Goldobin played in his second game of the season.

Joe Thornton remains two assists away from 1000 in his career. His five-game point streak came to an end.

Burns had 20 shot attempts, including seven on net.

Up next

Saturday’s game in Vancouver begins a stretch where the Sharks will play their final 22 games over a 43-day span. On Feb. 2, they won the first of five meetings with the Canucks, 4-1 at Rogers Arena.

Vancouver, which hosted Philadelphia on Sunday, also has its bye week from Feb. 20-24.