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Niemi out duels Rinne in clash of netminders
Sharks beat Nashville 2-1 in the shootout
3/15/12 - By Mike Lee -

It doesn't matter how you win, as long as you do win. The Sharks took that to heart on Thursday night, waiting out Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne in a nail-biting, back and forth contest that was decided in the shootout. Rinne stopped 34 shots in regulation and overtime, but couldn't deny Ryane Clowe's game winner in the shootout. Antti Niemi countered with a 32 save performance, before stopping all three shooters in the overtime.

Things looked bleak for San Jose, who couldn't get any pressure on Rinne through the first two periods. When they did get pucks to the net, the Predators netminder wasn't giving up any rebounds. Only a power play in the 3rd period would provide the crack they needed to get on the scoreboard.

San Jose was pressed to play catch up after the Predators grabbed a lead on their own power play.

Clowe tried forcing a pass up high in the offensive zone, but his pass was intercepted for an odd-man rush. Marc-Edouard Vlasic tried disrupting the rush by waving his stick at Sergei Kostitsyn, but caught him in the face instead.

As has become all too common this season, San Jose allowed a goal on the ensuing Predators power play. Patric Hornqvist took a Mike Fisher feed down low, then jammed the puck past Antti Niemi after pivoting to his left.

Martin Havlat made his return to the lineup for the first time since December and just missed on getting a puck past Rinne with 5:30 to play in the period. The Sharks forward collected a Ryane clowe pass in front of the crease, then lost the handle on the puck before lifting a shot that Rinne gloved.

Patrick Marleau ripped a shot on net a minute later that Rinne got a piece of the puck, but it skipped through the crease.

Things got wacky with 3 minutes and change to play in the period, when RInne dressed up a trip by Havlat. Paul Gausted cross checked Havlat into the Predators goaltender, allowing the Sharks forward to take liberties as he ran into Rinne. All hell broke loose, but when the smoke cleared, San Jose was penalized and forced to kill a Nashville power play.

A David Legwand interference penalty at the end of the period, carried over to the 3rd frame and San Jose capitalized. Joe Thornton chipped home a rebound from the outside of the right post after Dan Boyle cranked a shot from the point. It was one of the few rebounds Rinne gave up all night.

San Jose had a chance to take the lead for the first time 4 minutes into the period when Boyle found himself with the puck as he was charging up the slot. Rather than shoot, the Sharks defenseman elected to pass.

Andrei Kostitsyn got a stick up high on Logan Couture at 4:47, but the Sharks failed to convert. Niemi was forced to make his biggest save of the game moments after the penalty expired, stopping Legwand with a huge kick save.

Dominic Moore checked Gausted to the ice later in the period, injuring the forward. Gausted was holding his wrist as he was helped to the locker room. He would not return.

In the overtime period, Dan Boyle undressed Ryan Suter on his way to the net as he sliced up the slot. Boyle pinned the puck against the right post as Rinne got his left pad over to cut off the shot.

Thornton got cute with the puck in his own zone, turning it over for a shot attempt that almost ended up in their own net. Lucky for him, his netminder was on top of his game. Niemi

Marleau missed on a last second chance after San Jose gained control of a faceoff with 3.9 seconds left in the extra period. His shot sailed just wide of the right post as time expired.

In the shootout, Clowe was the only player to score, slipping a shot past Rinne to the stick side. Niemi ended the game with another save on Legwand.





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Scoring
1 2 3 OT SO T
NSH 1 0 0 0 0 1
SJ 0 0 1 0 1 2
1st period - 1, NSH, Hornqvist 22 (Fisher, Erat), 13:18, (pp).
2nd period - None.
3rd period - 1, SJ, Thornton 16 (Boyle, Marleau), 0:55, (pp).
Overtime - None.
Shootout - SJ: Havlat (miss), Pavelski (miss), Clowe (goal). NSH: Smith (miss), A. Kostitsyn (miss), Legwand (miss).
Penalties
1st period - Vlasic, SJ (high sticking), 11:23; A. Kostitsyn, NSH (slashing), 14:28.
2nd period - Gausted, NSH (roughing), 15:43; Winnik, SJ (tripping), 15:43; Havlat, SJ (roughing), 15:43; Legwand, NSH (interference), 19:49.
3rd period - A. Kostitsyn, NSH (high sticking), 4:47.
Overtime - Weber, NSH (tripping), 4:56.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
NSH - Rinne 35 34
SJ - Niemi 33 32
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 OT T
NSH 7 13 10 3 33
SJ 13 15 4 3 35
Power Play Conversion
NSH 1 of 2
SJ 1 of 4
3 Stars of the Game
Antti Niemi
Pekka Rinne
Justin Braun
Attendence
17,562
Officials
Referees: O'Rourke, Kozari. Linesmen: Galloway, Cameron.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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