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Sharks return to Winnipeg
Niemi perfect in 2-0 win
1/12/12 - By Mike Lee -

The last time the Sharks played in Winnipeg, Bill Clinton was still President of the United States and the internet was this cool new technology. It's been 15 years since San Jose braved the arctic temperatures of Manitoba in January, but the Atlanta Thrashers folded up shop and migrated north for the winter. The Sharks used their return to the "Peg" on Thursday night as a chance to reintroduce themselves and get back in the win column, beating the host Jets 2-0.

Antti Niemi made 24 saves for his 2nd shutout of the season, backstopping the Sharks to their 24th win of the season.

Fresh off his All Star selection, forward Logan Couture provided San Jose with all the offense they would need by scoring his 18th goal of the season midway through the game. Couture capped his big day by one-timing a feed from Brent Burns past Jets netminder Ondre Pavelec from the slot.

Burns setup the goal by carrying the puck up the ice and flipping it deep, before chasing it down along the end boards and flipping a backhand pass to the front of the net. Jets defenseman Tobias Enstrom was positioned in front of the Winnipeg net, but Couture beat him to Burns pass.

Couture also owned the Jets in the faceoff circle, winning 12 of 16 draws to lead San Jose. The Sharks won 66% of their faceoffs, which allowed them to contain the Jets.

Winnipeg's 19th ranked offense did little to threaten Niemi, who was able to handle the puck and keep the front his crease tidy most of the evening. Niemi faced 10 shots in the opening period and 14 more over the remaining 40 minutes.

Brad Winchester gave the Sharks some breathing room early in the 3rd period, scoring his 5th goal of the season off a pretty passing sequence with his linemates. Manitoba native Andrew Murray started things with a pass from behind the Jets net to Andrew Desjardins near the right corner. Desjardins spotted Winchester cutting toward the net, and immediately sent the puck to the top of the crease. Winchester simply tapped the pass past Pavelec for the 2-0 lead.

The boisterous Winnipeg crowd was looking for anything from their newly transplanted team, but San Jose clamped down on the Jets. Part of the Sharks dominance can be attributed to their ability to lay the body and block shot. San Jose out hit the Jets 28-19, an blocked 19 Winnipeg shots.

Winnipeg was also hindered by a hooking penalty to Andrew Ladd with 8 minutes to play while the Sharks were buzzing in the Jets zone. The Sharks failed to capitalize on the power play, but valuable time was milked off the clock. San Jose was 0-for-2 collectively with the man advantage.

Winnipeg's leading goal scorer Evander Kane led the Jets with 3 shots on goal, but he was a non-factor most of the evening.


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1 2 3 T
SJ 0 1 1 2
WPG 0 0 0 0
1st period - None.
2nd period - 1, SJ, Couture 18 (Burns), 13:36.
3rd period - 2, SJ, Winchester 5 (Desjardins, A. Murray), 2:33.
1st period - Winchester, SJ (charging), 2:29; Demers, SJ (holding), 8:28; Wellwood, WPG (diving), 8:28.
2nd period - Burns, SJ (interference), 3:34; Wheeler, WPG (slashing), 14:16.
3rd period - Ladd, WPG (hooking), 11:54.
Shots Saves
SJ - Niemi 24 24
WPG - Pavelec 37 35
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 14 9 14 37
WPG 10 8 6 24
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 2
WPG 0 of 2
3 Stars of the Game
Logan Couture
Antti Niemi
Dan Boyle
Referees: O'Rourke, Pollock. Linesmen: Brisebois, Champoux.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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