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Niemi downs Penguins in shootout

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Antti Niemi stole two points for the Sharks by putting on a fine performance in the actual hockey game and in the shootout.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Marc-Andre Fleury and Antti Niemi are two of the best goaltenders in the shootout, and Fleury is having a Vezina-caliber season for the Penguins this year while Niemi has struggled; yet it was an impressive shootout victory by the San Jose netminder that gave the Sharks a 2-1 win on Monday.

Tommy Wingels scored the game-winning goal in the eighth round of the shootout.

The Penguins carried play for long stretches of the game (and by long stretches I mean from whistle to whistle) but it was the Sharks who struck first with under a minute to go in the first period.

At the tail end of the Sharks' first power play of the game Chris Tierney received the puck behind the net, and, with time expiring, he threw the puck in front of the net and Matt Nieto charged in to bury it. So despite being outshot 15-6 in the first period, the Sharks carried a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.

After a scoreless second that saw Pittsburgh continue to carry most of the shot attempts, Sidney Crosby equalized in the third. Apparently Marc-Edouard Vlasic did a little good-natured gloating before the game about never being on the ice for a Crosby goal (against, mind you). Crosby had never scored against the Sharks until tonight when he received a breakout pass and was able to flip the puck over a diving Vlasic and over Niemi's right shoulder to even the score.

The Penguins continued to pepper Niemi with shots while San Jose countered with little offensive juice of their own. A penalty by Tommy Wingels near the end of regulation gave Pittsburgh about 1:30 on the powerplay at the start of the overtime period. San Jose killed three penalties while failing to score on their three shots at the man-advantage.

[Fancy Stats] - [Penguins Reaction]
[Event Summary] - [PBP Log] - [TOI Log] - [Faceoff Report]

  • Antti Niemi stole this game for the Sharks. He made 39 saves and another seven in the shootout.
  • That Fleury guy also played pretty well — he made 29 saves and six in the shootout.
  • Evgeni Malkin had a +29 shot attempt differential tonight. That second line of the Penguins is absolutely fucking nails.
  • Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton were the only Sharks with positive shot attempt differentials tonight — they were each a +1.
FTF Three Stars

1st Star: Antti Niemi
2nd Star: Marc-Andre Fleury
3rd Star: Evgeni Malkin