In the NHL, good goaltending trumps good offense any day of the week, and that certainly held true on Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden, as Antti Niemi made 41 saves in the San Jose Sharks’ 1-0 victory over the New York Rangers.
In a season where he has been so inconsistent and has had to deal with the rise of backup Alex Stalock, Niemi needed a game like this to shut down his critics and stabilize the No. 1 spot on the goaltender depth chart. He stopped anything and everything that the Rangers threw at him; his first period was the strongest when he made 20 saves, including several spectacular ones.
There was one little blemish, however, when the Rangers’ Carl Hagelin appeared to have scored on a wraparound late in the second period, but the officials ruled that it was not a goal, despite a replay showing that the puck crossed the goal line.
Based on the way Niemi played, though, he certainly deserved that break. All the offense that was needed for the Sharks came on a shorthanded goal by Logan Couture in the first period, when he stole the puck at center ice, skated past Brad Richards, and put home a backhander past Henrik Lundqvist while falling and doing the splits. It was a scintillating goal, to the say the least.
Other than that, it was the Antti Niemi show that stole the spotlight at MSG. It has been quite a week for the Sharks, as they sweep a three-game road trip, and have won six in a row overall.
Tale of the Tape
- Shots on goal: 29
- Power play: 0-for-1
- Hits: 15
- Giveaways: 8
- Takeaways: 1
- Faceoffs won: 21
- Shots on goal: 41
- Power play: 0-for-3
- Hits: 16
- Giveaways: 12
- Takeaways: 2
- Faceoffs won: 35
Good to Know
Confirmed per @EliasSports, the Sharks previous record for saves in a shutout was 40 (Evgeni Nabokov on Jan. 12, 2006 at Ottawa).
— Darin Stephens (@SharksStats) March 16, 2014
What’s on Tap
The Sharks return home on Tuesday to take on the Panthers.