Tempers short as Sharks await Canucks, Gm. 3

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Tempers short as Sharks await Canucks, Gm. 3

May 20, 2011

VANCOUVER (2-0) vs.
SHARKS (0-2)

Coverage begins at 6 P.M. on Versus

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) The San Jose Sharks lost more than the first two games in the Western Conference final during a lost trip to Vancouver. They also lost their composure.

From captain Joe Thornton challenging Ryan Kesler to a fight before the opening faceoff of Game 1 to enforcer Ben Eager's parade to the penalty box late in Game 2, the Sharks have been on the wrong side of the aggression line too often the first two games and find themselves down 2-0 in the series.

Led by Eager's 20 penalty minutes, the Sharks committed 53 minutes in penalties in a 7-3 loss in Game 2 on Wednesday night, leading to seven power-play chances and three man-advantage goals for the opportunistic Canucks.

"That's often a result of frustration," coach Todd McLellan said Thursday. "It catches up with you. ... It wasn't like we lost it when it was 5-2 or 6-2. We lost it at 3-2. That's not the sign of a team that can win a series. That has to get better."

RELATED: Have Sharks, McLellan run out of options?

The Sharks held an optional workout Thursday as they look to get back into the series in Game 3 at home on Friday night.

Eager was the biggest violator for the Sharks, committing four minor penalties and a misconduct in the final 21 minutes of the game. He also scored San Jose's third goal and was praised by McLellan for his forechecking and skating - a sign that he likely will stay in the lineup despite the penalty-filled game.

The Canucks believe that shouldn't be San Jose's choice.

Coach Alain Vigneault was upset there wasn't more punishment from the NHL for Eager's hit from behind against Daniel Sedin in the final minute of the second period. Eager also got a roughing call for taunting goalie Roberto Luongo after scoring to cut the deficit to 7-3 and called Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa a "phony" for fighting Sharks top-line player Patrick Marleau instead of a more accomplished fighter.

"Obviously he's on the ice to try and hurt people," Vigneault said. "He ran Danny from the back, one of the NHL's potential MVP, he ran our goaltender. Their coach goes out and says that's the way he wants them to play. I just hope nothing serious is going to happen on the ice otherwise there will be some serious consequences to that."

RATTO: Canucks coach sensing a conspiracy

McLellan and Eager downplayed Vigneault's criticisms, with the coaching praising his fourth-line player one of his best players in Game 2 and saying he can be a force if he can limit his penalties.

Eager has a history with the Canucks, having knocked them out of the playoffs the past two years while with Chicago.

"If you play a team three years in a row there's going to be some dislike," Eager said. "When it's in the conference finals it's that much more intense. Sometimes games end up like last night."

The Canucks were on the other side of that in last year's second-round loss to Eager and the Blackhawks. The most notable loss of composure came from high-scoring Sedin, who uncharacteristically fought with Dave Bolland during that series.

"You get frustrated when you feel their team is better than your team and this year we have a better team, that's the bottom line," Sedin said. "Chicago had a lot more depth last year and that's what happens. It's one incident, nothing I worry too much about. It's the playoffs, sometimes things get out of hand."

The Canucks have been better at almost every aspect of this series, showing more speed than the Sharks, beating them to loose pucks, and most importantly, doing a better job of staying out of the penalty box after allowing seven power-play goals in 28 chances in the six games against the Blackhawks last year.

Vancouver has been short-handed just three times this series, allowing goals all three times, but have controlled the five-on-five play for most of the series.

"We learned our lessons the hard way," Bieksa said. "At the time it really cost us and we talked about it a lot during the season and talked about it a lot before the playoffs, and have been very good at it all season, staying discipline and even keeled and staying away from the stuff after the whistle."

The Sharks have lost five of six games since taking a 3-0 lead in the second round against Detroit with the only win coming in Game 7 at home against the Red Wings last week. They have also lost eight straight games in the Western Conference finals, dating to 2004 against Calgary, after getting swept in this round a year ago against eventual Stanley Cup champion Chicago.

"This organization will always have the label of underachieving until it wins the Cup," defenseman Dan Boyle said. "We've been talking about it for three years now. We have to find a way to win and that's it."

Giants continue embarrassing stretch against rebuilding Padres

Giants continue embarrassing stretch against rebuilding Padres

SAN FRANCISCO — Three years ago, the Giants and Padres were the two teams in it until the very end for Pablo Sandoval’s services. He ended up in Boston, and when he became available again over the past week, the Padres politely backed away. 

They prefer youth and Rule 5 Draft picks. They came into this season knowing they might lose 100 games, and they didn’t mind. If anything, they welcomed the increased shot at the top pick in the 2018 draft. They’re here to tank, but the Giants (who expect to welcome Sandoval back on a minor league deal as soon as Friday) just won’t let them. 

Thursday’s 5-2 loss to San Diego was like so many others over the past calendar year. The Giants didn’t hit, they didn’t come through in the clutch, they did not support their starting pitcher, and they did not guarantee a handshake line. 

The Giants have lost 15 of 20 to the Padres since last year’s All-Star break, including three straight last July to kickstart a tailspin that has lasted over a year now. They have dropped four of five meetings in this second half, which was supposed to prove that a Padre-like rebuild is not needed up here in the Bay Area. They are five games behind the Padres in the race to finish a distant fourth in the National League, and in a season full of disappointment, that stands as one of the more embarrassing facts. 

Not even Madison Bumgarner’s return to AT&T Park could turn the tide. The lefty looked good most of the night, but two homers left him with a rougher-than-hoped line. Bumgarner gave up four earned on two homers. He has allowed multiple homers in back-to-back games for the first time in his career. Both starts have come against the Padres. 

“I’ve got to stop giving up homers,” Bumgarner said of his start. “That’s not going to work.”

Bumgarner said he felt fine physically, and his curveball — the pitch that has backfired on him most often since his return — feels right mechanically. He was facing his last batter in the seventh as George Kontos warmed up with a runner on. Corey Spangenberg hit a two-run shot to the deepest part of the yard to make it 4-2. 

Buster Posey flied out with the bases loaded in the eighth. The Giants brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth but couldn’t score, which has been the norm against the Padres. The Giants are averaging just 3.2 runs per game during this 20-game stretch of futility against a team they once dominated. 

“We need to win ballgames right now,” Bumgarner said. “We’ve got to start doing that. There’s no magic solution. We’ve got to start playing better, all of us.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as homers hurt Bumgarner vs Padres

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as homers hurt Bumgarner vs Padres

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — A day after he did his press conference from a “Game of Thrones” throne, manager Bruce Bochy said he was happy the Giants won their series finale against the Indians and kept that plan in play. In that respect, he’s lucky his team wasn’t facing the Padres on Wednesday. 

The Giants were on Thursday, however, and they continued their baffling stretch of ineptitude against what is supposed to be the worst team in the National League West. The 5-2 loss to San Diego was the 15th in the last 20 meetings between the two teams, one of which has a $200 million payroll and the other of which is actively tanking. 

The Giants had a shot at a comeback in the eighth, but Buster Posey flied out to right with two outs and the bases loaded. Here are five things to know, if you are the curious type: 

—- Madison Bumgarner has faced the Padres twice since returning. In 13 1/3 innings, he has allowed 10 hits and seven earned runs. He is getting hurt by a familiar problem for the 2017 Giants: The Padres have four homers off Bumgarner in those two starts. Hunter Renfroe and Cory Spangenberg took him deep Thursday, with Spangenberg hitting one out to the deepest part of the yard on Bumgarner’s final pitch. 

—- This is the first time in Bumgarner’s career that he has allowed multiple homers in back-to-back starts. 

—- Kyle Crick showed good stuff — sitting 96-97 — while stranding a runner on second in the eighth. He followed that with a scoreless ninth. The Giants should make it a priority to throw him into some deeper water over the next two months. 

—- There’s an epidemic these days of outfielders making foolish throws to the plate. We see it just about every night, and it cost the Padres in the sixth. Gorkys Hernandez was on second and he took off right away on Denard Span’s single to right. Renfroe had no play at the plate but he threw it anyway and Span took second. He scored when Eduardo Nuñez singled to left. 

—- The Giants announced their second consecutive sellout. That’s a streak. Maybe?