Although the Sharks didn't win in the same dominating fashion that Los Angeles displayed on Monday, Antti Niemi had a 29 save shutout and Devin Setoguchi notched the game's only goal as the Sharks stunned Los Angeles 1-0 on New Year's Day.
Despite the relative closeness of the game, It was exactly the performance that we wanted to see from San Jose to start the New Year; it was a full sixty minute effort that the Sharks have lacked recently. It wasn't convincing per say, but the Sharks were physical, determined and effective when the situation presented itself.
It was an important win for the Sharks, who capped what could have been a disappointing road trip with a win against a division rival. The Los Angeles Kings are the real deal, and any opportunity to steal two points from a team who could give the Sharks a run for the Pacific should be considered golden.
The game was a back and forth affair, with Devin Setoguchi scoring his fifth goal in the last eight games to secure the game winner. He's been progressively better as the young forward has recovered from injury; he's either solidifying himself as a member of the team for the long haul or improving his value on the trade market. Only time will tell which role Setoguchi will play.
In addition, whether you prefer Antero Niittymaki or Antti Niemi, it shouldn't matter at this point. The tandem netminding system has worked out well for San Jose, highlighted by Niemi's shutout tonight against the Kings.
Although I've dolled out compliments for much of this recap, I have to call to attention a few players who I thought could have done a better job. Kent Huskins, who had a laughable break away chance when he was sprung from the penalty box, could have done a much better job sealing off the boards on the breakout on multiple occasions. And hell, I just didn't feel that Heatley was putting in his all tonight. It's something I've had issues with for a few weeks now.
The Sharks will return home for three games starting on Monday. If they really hope to prove that they are a changed team, they'll play a strong sixty minutes against Vancouver and begin to build another winning streak.
Let's hope they do just that.