May 23, 2011 in Sports

In brief: Canucks take commanding lead on Sharks

 
Associated Press photo

Vancouver Canucks defenseman Sami Salo celebrates his second goal against the San Jose Sharks during the second period.
(Full-size photo)

NHL: Sami Salo scored twice and Ryan Kesler added a goal as the visiting Vancouver Canucks capitalized on three two-man advantages in the second period to beat the San Jose Sharks 4-2 Sunday in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals to take a 3-1 series lead.

The Canucks scored the three goals in a span of 1:55, needing only 37 seconds on the three 5-on-3 situations to beat Antti Niemi three times.

Alexandre Burrows added an even-strength goal in the third period as the Canucks moved to the brink of reaching the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 1994. Henrik Sedin had a franchise playoff-record four assists, twin brother Daniel had three, and Roberto Luongo made 33 saves.

Vancouver scored four goals despite recording only 13 shots in the game and just seven after the first period.

Andrew Desjardins and Ryane Clowe had third-period goals for the Sharks, who failed to capitalize on five early power-play chances and fell to 1-6 at home in the conference finals in franchise history. San Jose will need to win Game 5 in Vancouver on Tuesday night to extend the series and get another chance at the Shark Tank.

In a series dominated by special teams play, this game was no different with nearly 15 of the first 33 minutes being spent with a team on the power play.

Cilic first seeded player to fall at French

Tennis: Marin Cilic became the first seeded player to be eliminated from the French Open, losing to Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo of Spain 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-4 in the first round in Paris.

The 19th-seeded Cilic, who reached the fourth round at the Australian Open, is a former top-10 player. But he had 67 unforced errors in the match and was broken five times.

For Ramirez Hidalgo, it was only his fourth win in 15 Grand Slam tournaments. Besides reaching the fourth round at the 2006 French Open, the Spaniard lost in the first round in each of his other 13 appearances at the four biggest tournaments on the tennis circuit.

Seventh-seeded David Ferrer had no such problems, advancing to the second round by defeating Jarkko Nieminen of Finland 6-3, 6-3, 6-1.

No. 14 Stanislas Wawrinka, No. 17 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France, No. 30 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain and No. 31 Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine also advanced.

On the women’s side, Sam Stosur opened her bid to return to the French Open final by beating Iveta Benesova 6-2, 6-3 in the first round.

The first seeded women’s player to lose was Shahar Peer. The 19th-seeded Israeli lost to Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez of Spain 7-6 (4), 6-1.

No. 10 Jelena Jankovic of Serbia, No. 17 Julia Goerges of Germany and No. 32 Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria also advanced.

Later, 2009 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova was to face Magdalena Rybarikova.

The French Open is the only one of the four Grand Slam tournaments to start on a Sunday, and there were 32 matches scheduled on eight courts.

Less than an hour before play began, two-time Grand Slam champion Lleyton Hewitt withdrew.

The Australian, who had been one of only five men in the draw with a Grand Slam singles title, has not played since March because of foot surgery. He was replaced by Marc Gicquel, one of nine French men playing Sunday.

Gicquel lost to Albert Montanes of Spain 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.

The four remaining Grand Slam champions in the men’s draw are five-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro.

Djokovic, Federer and Del Potro are expected to play today, while Nadal is scheduled to play Tuesday.

Andretti, Patrick qualify for Indy 500

Auto Racing: Marco Andretti has put himself back in the Indianapolis 500 lineup with an incredible final run to beat the qualifying gun.

Andretti posted a four-lap qualifying average of 224.628 mph on the final run of the day. He’ll start 28th, the inside of Row 10. Just minutes earlier, he was bumped from the field by England’s Alex Lloyd.

A little more than an hour before that, Danica Patrick finally got the break she needed – a dry track. Her qualifying run of 224.861 put her in the No. 26 spot, the middle of Row 9.

• Hight gives John Force Racing 200th win: Robert Hight gave John Force Racing its 200th victory, beating teammate Mike Neff in the Funny Car final in the NHRA Summer Nationals at Topeka, Kan.

Spencer Massey (Top Fuel) and Shane Gray (Pro Stock) also won.

Hight had a 4.284-second pass at 264.86 mph to edge Neff.

• Stenhouse Jr. wins Nationwide race: In Newton, Iowa, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. held off Sprint Cup drivers Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski to win NASCAR’s Nationwide series race in Iowa, becoming the first series regular to pick up a victory this season.

Stenhouse took the lead from Edwards 233 laps into the 250-lap event at Iowa Speedway and held off the only Cup drivers in the field for his first career Nationwide win.

Edwards, who won the Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte on Saturday night, was second, followed by Keselowski, Reed Sorenson and Elliott Sadler.

Contador extends lead; Nieve takes 15th

Cycling: Alberto Contador extended his already commanding lead and fellow Spaniard Mikel Nieve Ituralde won the grueling 15th stage of the Giro d’Italia at Val Di Fassa, Italy.

A member of an early breakaway, Nieve clocked 7 hours, 27 minutes, 14 seconds over the five major climbs lining the 142-mile route from Conegliano to Gardeccia Val di Fassa.

Stefano Garzelli, the 2000 Giro winner, also was in the breakaway and crossed second, 1:41 behind, and Contador was third, 1:51 back.

Contador said he consumed 7,000 calories during the stage.

Overall rivals Michele Scarponi and Vincenzo Nibali crossed fourth and seventh, 1:57 and 3:34 behind, respectively.

Contador leads Scarponi by 4:20 in the overall standings, with Nibali dropping from second to third, 5:11 behind.

Nibali gained a lead on Contador during the technical and high-speed descent from the Giau pass, the highest point of the three-week race, at an elevation of 7,336 feet.

But Contador caught him on the next climb, to the Fedaia pass, then dropped him on the day’s final ascent, which ended with a section of gravel road.

Besides the length and long climbing sections, the stage was made even more difficult by high temperatures at the start and cool and rainy conditions at the finish.

• Horner wraps up Tour of California title: In Thousand Oaks, Calif., Chris Horner won the Tour of California with a solid performance in the final stage, holding off RadioShack teammate Levi Leipheimer by 38 seconds.

The 39-year-old Horner was the oldest rider to finish the race. The 16-year veteran led the overall standings after each of the final five days, easily hanging on for his first Tour of California title.

Horner rode most of the final two stages alongside Leipheimer, the three-time race champion. Garmin-Cervelo’s Tom Danielson finished third, and teammate Christian Vande Velde was fourth.

Matthew Goss won the 80.2-mile final stage from Santa Clarita to Thousand Oaks, outsprinting his fellow leaders on the final lap.


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