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Niemi solid in return home
Winnik and Galiardi solid in home debut
2/28/12 - By Mike Lee -

Licking their wounds after a horrific road trip, the Sharks tried to right the ship on Tuesday night. Playing in front of a home crowd for the first time in almost three weeks, San Jose turned in a defensive gem en route to a 1-0 win over the visiting Philadelphia Flyers. Antti Niemi made 26 saves to post his 5th shutout of the season, helping the Sharks to their third win in the last ten games.

Niemi looked nothing like the goaltender that was riddled on the Sharks 9-game road trip the resulted in 7 losses. The Sharks netminder had no problem seeing shot against a struggling Flyers team that threw plenty of rubber in his direction.

The biggest downside to the Sharks game were the extended stays by the Flyers in the San Jose zone, which required Niemi to be on top of his game. His hairiest situations came at the end of the game when the Flyers attacked with an extra skater and narrowly missed the net after he was caught out of the net.

"You always want to spend less time in your zone when defending," said Sharks assistant coach Matt Shaw. "We did have to spend some time there. They are probably one of the better teams in the league at offensive zone cycle; their strength and their skill in and around the net. You don't want to have to play that much time in your zone, but they did a good job of dealing with it. And certainly the goalie was the number one star tonight."

"It was nice (to be home) especially in the third when you need a little push," said Ryane Clowe. "They were loud. And then there were a couple missed calls when they got on the refs. So it's always nice to hear them again."

Niemi's toe save on Wayne Simmonds was the save of the game, which preserved San Jose's slim one-goal lead.

Simmonds was more agitator than scoring threat throughout the evening, trying to get under the Sharks skin at every opportunity. The former L.A. Kings forward exchanged punches with Marc-Edouard Vlasic right before the 1st intermission, but no penalties were called.

Brad Winchester lost his cool with the Flyers forward and was baited into a bad roughing penalty after the horn sounded to signify the first intermission. Simmonds got under Winchester's skin again in the 3rd period as he started chirping at the Sharks bench during a stoppage.

Even after the final horn sounded and San Jose had secured the victory, they couldn't shut Simmonds up. He got into it with Vlasic as the final horn sounded. A scuffle broke out, but it was Vlasic who had the last laugh.

The unwillingness of referees Mike Lego and Marc Joanette to use their whistles bordered on the absurd. The tightly contested game saw only three penalties, even though the Flyers lead the league in infractions and were more than guilty of suspect play.

Newly acquired forward T.J. Galiardi had a step on Kimmo Timonen and Pavel Kubina but was hauled down at center ice by the tandem on what would have been a breakaway. Joe Thornton was tripped moments later behind his own net resulting in a turnover that went uncalled.

Lego and Joanette either felt compelled to match non-calls or flat out missed a blatant hit by Vlasic on Daniel Briere that sent the Flyers centerman head first into the boards. With Briere laid out on the ice, the Sharks ha an odd-man rush that turned into a scoring opportunity. Flyers goaltender Ilya Brysgalov defused the situation, but everyone in the arena couldn't believe that no penalty was called on San Jose.

Galiardi was joined by Daniel Winnik, who impressed with his hustle throughout the game. Winnik skated on a line with Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski, and seemed to be everyone on the ice. He also showed off some nifty stick handling in the 2nd period during the Sharks lone power play.

Bryzgalov's lone mistake turned out to be all the scoring San Jose needed. Clowe took a Thornton drop pass in the neutral zone then walked into the Philadelphia zone and ripped a shot from between the circles that eluded Bryzgalov 82 seconds into the game.

"It just shows that you never know which shift is going to be the most important of the night," Thornton said. " And that shift proved to be the one. Both teams played really good defensively. They really didn't give up too much."

Game Notes:

San Jose was without head coach Todd McLellan, who was suffering concussion like symptoms from the stick hit to his head on Sunday. McLellan was at HP Pavilion during the game, but was not behind the bench during the game.


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1 2 3 T
PHI 0 0 0 0
SJ 1 0 0 1
1st period - 1, SJ, Clowe 11 (Thornton, Burns), 1:22.
2nd period - None.
3rd period - None.
1st period - Winchester, SJ (roughing), 20:00.
2nd period - White, SJ (delay of game - puck over glass), 4:35; Vorachek, PHI (hooking), 7:45.
3rd period - None.
Shots Saves
PHI - Bryzgalov 23 22
SJ - Niemi 26 26
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
PHI 10 7 9 26
SJ 11 6 6 23
Power Play Conversion
PHI 0 of 2
SJ 0 of 1
3 Stars of the Game
Antti Niemi
Ryane Clowe
Daniel Winnik
Referees: Joanette, Lego. Linesmen: Nowak, Schacte.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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