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Sharks extend win streak to 5
Niemi makes 42 saves in win
2/9/11 - By Mike Lee -

After dispatching the Washington Capitals 24 hours earlier, the Sharks continued their lengthy road trip on Wednesday night in Columbus, Ohio against a Blue Jackets team struggling to crack into the playoff race. San Jose would shake off a slow start and overcome a two goal deficit to win their 5th game in a row. The win would momentarily vault the Sharks into the Pacific Division lead. Antti Niemi’s shutout streak ended, but he turned aside 42 shots to earn his 14th win of the season.

The Dallas Stars would regain the division lead by losing Phoenix in overtime. San Jose and Dallas have the same number of wins and overtime & shootout losses, but the Sharks have one more regulation loss, which gives them a higher winning percentage.

San Jose played another solid road game, after allowing the Blue Jackets to score a pair of power play goals in the opening period. They would lock things down defensively, before chipping away at Columbus. They would score three unanswered goals, culminating with Patrick Marleau’s game winner with 4:51 to play in regulation.

A Dany Heatley interference penalty at 8:35 of the opening period would set the stage for the Blue Jackets first goal. The league’s 28th ranked power play would look like world beaters early. Kristian Huselius would deposit his 12th goal of the year from the right dot a minute into the man-advantage, using a screen by R.J. Umberger to snap Niemi’s shutout streak.

The Sharks offense did little in terms of generating much energy around Blue Jackets netminder Chris Mason in the period. San Jose would puck 6 shots on net in the frame, which was dwarfed by the 16 shots that Columbus threw at Niemi.

Ben Eager would put the Blue Jackets back on the power play late in the period after cross checking Derick Brassard. Defenseman Grant Clitsome would cash in for his 3rd goal of the season with 9 seconds left in the period. Clitsome cranked a shot over Niemi’s left should with a blast from the left dot.

Kent Huskins would help the Sharks cut into the Columbus lead just 1:56 into the 2nd period, by scoring his 1st goal of the season. Huskins threw a puck on net form the left point that slipped past Mason, who was screened by his own teammate. Defenseman Kris Russell was lurking in front of his own net, and leapt to get out of the way of Huskins shot. That move would block Mason, allowing the puck to catch twine.

The goal would energize the Sharks, who picked up the pace to draw a hooking penalty on Brassard. San Jose’s power play was blanked all night, but the chance allowed them to tilt the ice toward Mason.

The shot counter would also tilt in San Jose’s favor in the period. The Sharks would outshoot Columbus 17-12 in the middle frame. One shot that never happened was off the stick of Joe Thornton who found himself on a breakaway chance midway through the period. Thornton got cute with the puck, but failed to put it on net.

A cross checking penalty on Antoine Vermette would pt San Jose on the power play at 7:10 of the period, but Mason would deny the Sharks. Mason stoned Kyle Wellwood who had a great chance on the left side, but the Columbus goaltender stuck his right pad out to stuff the would-be goal.

Wellwood would miss minutes later on a glorious chance in front of the Columbus goal. The Sharks forward would lift a shot that his Mason in the shoulder before bouncing off the left post.

He would get his revenge later in the period. The Sharks newest addition would bag his 2nd goal of the season by depositing a shot from the slot into an unattended net. Logan Couture received a Wellwood pass on the left wing, then tried forcing a pass to Ryane Clowe in the slot. The puck would hit Clowe in the skate and deflect right to Wellwood for the easy put back goal.

Niemi would earn his paycheck in the 3rd period, stopping 16 more shots. Columbus would get their best chance to reclaim the lead after Niklas Wallin was sent off for a ticky-tack hooking penalty 5:21 in. The Shaks goaltender may a clutch save off a Russell shot by sliding from right to left.

Marleau and Joe Pavelski would team up to score the game-winner after a hearty forecheck behind the Columbus net. Pavelski fought to gain control of the puck, before sliding a pass to Marleau in he left corner. Marleau drifted out toward the circle, then lifted a shot that caught Mason in the shoulder and rolled down his back and into the goal.

The Blue Jackets were forced to pull Mason with 1:30 left in regulation, but the Sharks would deny Columbus.

Game Notes:

The Sharks were able to control the puck throughout the evening with strong performances in the faceoff circle. Pavelski won 12 of 14 faceoffs to lead San Jose. Columbus would lay 40 hits on the Sharks. Every Blue Jacket recorded a hit with the exception of Huselius and Jakub Voracek. San Jose also completed a trade with the New Jersey Devils, sending prospects Steven Zalewski and Jay Leach to the Devils for forwards Patrick Davis & Mike Swift.



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Scoring
1 2 3 T
SJ 0 2 1 3
CBJ 2 0 0 0
1st period - 1, CBJ, Huselius 12 (Stralman, Umberger), 9:35, (pp). 2, CBJ, Clitsome 3 (Tyutin, Brassard), 19:51, (pp).
2nd period - 3, SJ, Huskins 1 (Pavelski, Marleau), 1:56. 4, SJ, Welwood 2 (Clowe, Couture), 13:39.
3rd period - 5, SJ, Marleau 20 (Pavelski), 15:09.
Penalties
1st period - Brassard, CBJ (roughing), 2:27; Heatley, SJ (interference), 8:35; Eager, SJ (cross checking), 18:23.
2nd period - Brassard, CBJ (hooking), 3:19; Vermette, CBJ (cross checking), 7:10; Nichol, SJ (hooking), 15:11.
3rd period - Wallin, SJ (hooking), 5:21.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
SJ - Niemi 44 42
CBJ - Mason 32 29
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 6 17 9 32
CBJ 16 12 16 44
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 3
CBJ 2 of 4
3 Stars of the Game
Antti Niemi
Patrick Marleau
Grant Clitsome
Attendence
11,906
Officials
Referees: O'Rourke, StPierre. Linesmen: McElman, Murray.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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