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SHARKS LOOK TO PUT FIGHT IN THEIR 3RD

Times wires

VANCOUVER - Sharks captain Joe Thornton tried to get the Western Conference final off to a raucous start when he asked gritty Canucks forward Ryan Kesler to drop the gloves right off the opening faceoff.

"Why not?" Thornton said Tuesday, confirming he made the invitation to Kesler. "Let's fight. Let's start the series off with a bang."

It didn't happen. But the game ended with a bang. Vancouver scored twice in the third period to win 3-2 on Sunday, and the Sharks are behind in a series for the first time this year.

Kesler said he laughed at Thornton's invitation after a lot of jostling got both players tossed out of the series' first faceoff.

"I'm not intimidated by anyone," Kesler said, pointing to Nashville defenseman Shea Weber and his thick, scraggly playoff beard as proof. "I played against Weber and that beard last round."

The Sharks were ahead 2-1 going into the third but gave up two goals 79 seconds apart and were outshot 13-7 in the final frame. That makes three blown third-period leads in four games for the Sharks, going back to their semifinal win against the Red Wings, who came back from 3-0 down in the series to tie it.

Fatigue might have played a role in the Sharks' latest letdown. Coming off an emotional Game 7 win against Detroit and with only two days off before starting the West final, San Jose looked tired against the Canucks' third-period push.

Both teams took Monday off and practiced Tuesday.

"(Monday) helped us a little," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "Doesn't guarantee we'll skate any better, but it's a step in the right direction."

Flyers: Forward Dan Carcillo was suspended for the first two games of next season for confronting officials during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against Boston. The league said Carcillo behaved aggressively and inappropriately with officials between the first and second periods of the game, which Philadelphia lost 5-1 to be swept out of the second round. Carcillo also confronted linesman Brian Murphy at the Flyers' bench and argued with him before the start of the second period. Carcillo said during a hearing he regrets his actions.

Hurricanes: Speaking for the first time since the end of the regular season, general manager Jim Rutherford voiced support for coach Paul Maurice, whose team has missed the playoffs the past two seasons.

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