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Niemi celebrates new contract with win
Clowe bags shootout winner again
3/1/11 - By Mike Lee -

The dreaded first game home after a road trip almost reached out and bit the Sharks, who were forced to score a goal late just to get the game to overtime. Ryane Clowe and Antti Niemi would bail San Jose once again in the shootout, giving the Sharks their seventh win in a row. Clowe scored his second consecutive game winner in the shootout to salvage two points on a night where it looked like the Sharks may not score at all.

Niemi celebrated his new four-year contract that was inked earlier in the day by stopping 18 of 19 shots in regulation and overtime, then all three shots in the shootout to win his 24th game of the season. The Sharks netminder’s deal is worth $15.2 million over those four seasons, which instantly brings some stability between the pipes for a Sharks team that was without a starting goaltender eight months ago.

The one blemish on Niemi’s night was a power play score by the visiting Colorado Avalanche early in the 3rd period. Colorado entered Tuesday night’s game having won just one game in their last 14 contests. Most expected a fire sale in Denver before yesterday’s NHL trade deadline, but the Avalanche brass were relatively lenient with their players. < BR>
Getting past the deadline wearing the same sweater allowed most players to relax and play their game, knowing they were staying put. There was more pressure on the Avalanche players heading into Monday’s deadline, so they seemed to let their hair down early in the contest.

San Jose looked like the discombobulated team early, especially on the power play. The Sharks would misfire on four chances on the night. Part of the issue was San Jose’s failure to get pucks past Colorado’s skaters, who blocked 28 shots.

Devin Setoguchi missed on a golden opportunity in the opening period after taking a give-and-go pass from Logan Couture at the Avalanche blueline then racing in on net. Colorado netminder Brian Elliott would turn Setoguchi’s point blank shot aside with a blocker save to give the game scoreless.

A Niklas Wallin holding the stick penalty 41 seconds into the 3rd period would provide the crack that the Avalanche would need to snap the scoreless tie. Erik Johnson would grab a Jason Demers turnover in the Sharks zone and whip a 40-foot shot that sailed past Antti Niemi’s glove. Demers tried to make an extra move with the puck before trying to clear it on the penalty kill, but he lost the handle and cough it up to Johnson. The mistake would end up in the Sharks net.

Jay McClement would put the Sharks on their fourth power play of the evening, but like the three chances before it, San Jose would generate little in the form of a serious scoring chance. The Sharks just didn’t have any jump in their step, which translated into problems getting the puck in front of the net.

Joe Pavelski would just miss on a shot from between the circled that clanked off the crossbar midway through the period.

With the clock winding down, San Jose would finally get on the board. Demers would help atone for his costly turnover earlier in the period by sending a shot in on net that Joe Thornton deflected out of the air with the shaft of his stick past Elliott. With Thornton parked outside the right post, the puck made an abrupt left turn off his stick to slip behind Elliott. Devin Setoguchi would earn the secondary assist on the goal to extend his point streak to five games.

Couture turned a shot on net into a heart stopper early in the overtime period, when his backhand swat at the deflection missed just wide of the right post. Justin Braun would follow that up with a shot from the slot with 1:38 left in the extra session.

With a career 8-4 record in the shootout, Niemi showed why he has the upper hand in the post-overtime event, stopping all three shooters for the second consecutive game.

In the shootout Ryane Clowe went back to the forehand, snapping a goal pas Elliott. Milan Hejduk sent a meek shot that Niemi gloved. Couture’s backhand chance was stopped by Elliot. Matt Duchene went to his backhand and clanked a shot off the right post.

Pavelski’s forehand shot was deflected by Elliott, who got a glove on the puck. Avalanche David Jones would put his chance wide right to seal the Sharks victory.


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1 2 3 OT SO T
COL 0 0 1 0 0 1
SJ 0 0 1 0 1 2
1st period - None.
2nd period - None.
3rd period - 1, COL, Johnson 7 (unassisted), 1:18, (pp). 2, SJ, Thornton 16 (Demers, Setoguchi), 17:02.
Overtime - None.
Shootout - SJ: Clowe (goal), Couture (miss), Pavelski (miss). COL: Hejduk (miss), Duchene (miss), Jones (miss).
1st period - Couture, SJ (holding the stick), 9:23; Liles, COL (hooking), 16:24.
2nd period - Stoa, COL (holding), 2:10; Stastny, COL (roughing), 14:55.
3rd period - Wallin, SJ (holding the stick), 0:41; McClement, COL (boarding), 4:37.
Overtime - None.
Shots Saves
COL - Elliott 35 34
SJ - Niemi 19 18
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 OT T
COL 5 5 7 2 19
SJ 9 10 11 5 35
Power Play Conversion
COL 1 of 2
SJ 0 of 4
3 Stars of the Game
Antti Niemi
Brian Elliott
Joe Thornton
Referees: Lee, Rooney. Linesmen: Mach, Rody.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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