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Niemi turns in another shaky showing
Flames chase netminder in 4-0 outburst
10/24/10 - By Mike Lee -

After turning in their best performance of the season, the Sharks let their guard down less than 24 hours later and laid an egg with arguably their worst performance of the year. The Calgary Flames would deny the Sharks from taking all three games on their abridged three-game road trip, by scoring four 1st period goals in a 4-0 blowout at the Saddledome.

The one constant for San Jose this season in their loses has been shaky goaltending when Antti Niemi gets the start in net. With the exception of San Jose’s season opener in Stockholm, Niemi has failed to record a win. Niemi would last 8 minutes and change in Sunday night’s game after surrendering three goals in that span.

The Finnish netminder had issues covering the glove side of the net, allowing all three goals on shots to the right side of the net.

Rene Bourque would open the scoring with a power play tall at 4:12 after Joe Pavelski was sent off for tripping. Niklas Hagman connected the dots with a cross ice pass from the left side to Bourque for the one-time chance that beat Niemi up high.

Niemi didn’t help himself on the next goal, giving up a long range shot off the stick of Jerome Iginla less than two minutes later after Alex Tanguay skated up the left wing and dropped a pass back to the trailing Flames captain. Iginla uncorked a shot from the top of the left circle for the 3-0 lead. Defensemen Dan Boyle and Douglas Murray skated back to cover Tanguay, with Boyle clearly in the best position to stop the Flames winger. Murray should have covered the trailer, but he was caught in no-man’s land after figuring out that Boyle had Tanguay covered.

Murray missed another assignment at 8:36, when Stefan Meyer carried the puck toward the left post before hitting Craig Conroy on the right side for a tap-in goal. The Sharks defenseman allowed Conroy to slip past him on the weak side. Niemi was caught between the two Flames forwards and failed to get over to his left to stop Conroy’s one-timer into the net.

Ryane Clowe and Tim Jackman dropped the gloves as Meyer and Conroy were doing their thing, which was the one highlight of the night for the Sharks. Clowe out-muscled Jackman, landing a couple of lefts after getting the inside hand on the Flames winger’s jersey.

The scrap also extended Niemi’s evening on the ice for a couple of minutes. Once both players were sent to the box, Antero Niittymaki would replace his teammate in net.

That change would last three minutes before Calgary capitalized for the final time. San Jose didn’t help matters by reacting slowly to the Flames while making a change. Patrick Marleau failed to stop Tanguay from dishing the puck off in front of the Sharks bench, which allowed Bourque to take the feed and race into the Sharks zone. Bourque would launch a 35-foot shot that Niittymaki tried to squeeze, but it slipped through his pads and trickled over the goal line.

Niittymaki would settle down the remainder of the evening, stopping 24 shots, but the damage was done.

Lazy penalties would prevent the Sharks from generating any momentum, and would allow the Flames to kick into cruise control. Torrey Mitchell would earn a trip to the box for tripping as San Jose tried breaking into the Calgary zone with 7 minutes left in the nightmare opening period.

Niittymaky would also draw a peculiar delay of game penalty early in the 2nd period, but his teammates would bail him out on the penalty kill. The Sharks goaltender came out of his crease to dive on a loose puck, but appeared to lose the handle on this stick. The stick floated out into the slot. Referee Justin St. Pierre ruled that Niittmaky intentionally threw his stick, to earn the two minute infraction.

San Jose would kill off 5 Flames man-advantage situations.

Unfortunately, they would only the man advantage twice in the game, and would not capitalize on their limited chances.

San Jose would put 27 shots on goal, but nothing got past former Shark Miikka Kiprusoff, who turned his 2nd shutout of the season.

Niittymaki would end things on a positive note by denying Iginla on a breakaway chance with just over 3 minutes remaining in the game.

Game Notes:

Scott Nichol took a shot off the inside of his left foot in the 2nd period and had to leave the game. He would return to the bench, but did not play.


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Scoring
1 2 3 T
SJ 0 0 0 0
CGY 4 0 0 4
1st period - 1, CGY, Bourque 5 (Hagman, Morrison), 4:12, (pp). 2, CGY, Iginla 2 (Tanguay, White), 6:01. 3, CGY, Conroy 2 (Meyer, Jackman), 8:36. 4, CGY, Bourque 6 (Tanguay, Stajan), 11:47.
2nd period - None.
3rd period - None.
Penalties
1st period - Pavelski, SJ (tripping), 3:31; Clowe, SJ (fighting major), 8:36; Jackman, CGY (fighting major), 8:36; Mitchell, SJ (hooking), 13:00.
2nd period - Niittymaki, SJ (delay of game), 2:36; Heatley, SJ (slashing), 8:53; Jokinen, CGY (interference), 13:50; Wallin, SJ (delay of game – puck over glass), 17:09; Glencross, CGY (hooking), 19:43.
3rd period - Heatley, SJ (tripping), 4:50.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
SJ - Niemi 5 2
SJ - Niittymaki 25 24
CGY - Kiprusoff 27 27
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 6 12 9 27
CGY 14 10 6 30
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 2
CGY 1 of 6
3 Stars of the Game
Miikka Kiprusoff
Rene Bourque
Alex Tanguay
Attendence
19,289
Officials
Referees: Jackson, St Pierre. Linesmen: Devorski, Rody.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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