Antti Niemi Steals Sharks’ Sixth-Straight Victory


Feb 28, 2014; Buffalo, NY, USA; San Jose Sharks goalie

Antti Niemi

(31) looks for the puck behind the net during the second period against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The San Jose Sharks (45-17-7, 97 points) defeated the New York Rangers (36-29-4, 76 points) by the final score of 1-0 in the final game of their three-game east-coast road trip. The player of the game was definitely Antti Niemi who played lights out stopping all 41 shots his way.

The story all game long was the play of Antti Niemi who earned his fourth shutout of the season in one of the best games he has played all season. The Sharks needed all 41 saves this afternoon too, as they were only able to muster one goal offensively. In the post-game interview with Drew Remenda he said he knew he was feeling well after the first period where he stopped 20 shots, including a couple of the spectacular variety.

For the fourth-straight game Raffi Torres did not play, but with Martin Havlat playing so well of late it really does not leave much of a big hole. The good news is Torres did skate in the pre-game, so perhaps he will be ready to go on Tuesday at home. It will be interesting to see what the coaching staff does with Havlat considering his strong play and new-found chemistry with James Sheppard.

The lone goal of the game, which came with 8:12 left in the first period, came off the stick of Logan Couture. He intercepted a neutral zone pass while on the penalty kill and broke away from Brad Richards who was playing the point on the power play. He was in all alone against Henrik Lundqvist and was able to make a move to his backhand and roof the shot to put it past the Rangers goaltender to put the Sharks ahead.

The New York Rangers did have in an instance where they might have scored, but with inconclusive video evidence the goal was not counted. A zoomed in replay of the puck coming out from behind the goal line under Antti Niemi’s pads seemed to show otherwise, but there was no way to say with 100% certainty that puck was in. Thus, there was no goal. And, as often as San Jose has been short-changed on video review this year, they got the better end of this deal.

Overall the Rangers thoroughly dominated this game from start to finish. To say the Sharks escaped with a win would be an understatement, and if it weren’t for Antti Niemi’s incredible goaltending this thing could have gotten out of hand after the first period. Still, two points is two points, and the win helps the Sharks keep pace with the Ducks in the division race.

The Sharks now carry a six-game winning streak back home with them to San Jose and look to continue their winning ways on Tuesday against the Florida Panthers. This also marks the end of their east coast trips and will now be able to focus on teams within their conference (for the most part).

GGS 3 Stars
1. Antti Niemi (41 saves)
2. Logan Couture (short-handed goal)
3. Henrik Lundqvist (29 saves)