Jan 29, 2013; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton (19) reacts between plays against the Anaheim Ducks during the first period at HP Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Niemi Stellar in Sharks Shootout Win Over Anaheim

The San Jose Sharks (6-0-0) escaped this evening with a shootout win over the Anaheim Ducks (3-1-1) taking the 3-2 victory.  Michal Handzus scored the only goal in the shootout while Antti Niemi turned in another great performance for the Sharks.

The Sharks struggled in the first two periods of the game where they were outshot by a total of 21-10 including only 4 shots in the first period.  In the third period shots were even at 7 but seemed to still be outplayed for a bit, and in overtime were definitely outplayed as well.  It definitely wasn’t the prettiest win, but it counts as 2 points and keeps the win steak alive at six games.

Antti Niemi was stellar once again stopping 30 of 32 shots that went his way and once again came up with humongous saves when he was called upon.  He kept the Sharks in the game during the first two periods and even had a fantastic save in overtime robbing a sure goal with a great kick save.

The Sharks’ power play was held to just two opportunites and could not capitalize on either of those chances while the penalty kill was seems to be getting stronger each game stopping all 4 of Anaheim’s chances keeping them off the scoresheet.   It was pretty evident that without the power play San Jose struggled to generate much offense and early on this season may be relying too heavliy on it.

The first period for the Sharks was a slow one although they did come out with a lead.  They scored the first goal of the game on a shot by Joe Pavelski off of a great stretch pass from Joe Thornton  to give the Sharks a 1-0 lead.  That would be all the production the first line would get for the game with each forward getting a point to keep their point streaks alive (Marleau got the secondary assist).

In the second period the Anaheim Ducks struck twice within the span of a minute with goals from Francois Beauchemin and Matt Beleskey giving them the 2-1 lead which they carried all the way until the end of the third period.

Even with 5 minutes left in the game the Ducks were controlling play and held a majority of possession.  But, all it took was once chance and off of a turnover the Sharks went in transition and Logan Couture threw the puck at the net that ended up squeaking by Hiller to tie the game 2-2.

In overtime both teams had their chances but again Anaheim seemed to be the better team.  Unfortunately for them San Jose had an ‘ace in the hole’ in Antti Niemi.  He got a little bit of help a few times during the game from the post and the crossbar but in the end his strong goaltending was the difference as he allowed no shootout goals.  In the end it was Handzus who was clutch enough to give the Sharks the 3-2 win with the only goal in the shootout.

My 3 Stars of the Game

1. Antti Niemi (30 saves)
2. Logan Couture (game-tying goal)
3. Michael Handzus (game-winning goal in shootout)

Tags: Anaheim Ducks Antti Niemi Francois Beauchemin Joe Pavelski Joe Thornton Logan Couture Matt Bekeskey Michal Handzus San Jose Sharks

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