Niemi Stands Tall For San Jose Sharks In Shootout Victory


Mar 9, 2015; San Jose, CA, USA; The puck bounces off the shoulder of San Jose Sharks goalie Antti Niemi (31) during the second period against the Pittsburgh Penguins at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Whenever the San Jose Sharks and Pittsburgh Penguins get together, it always seems to be a high-paced, action-packed game. The teams put on another exciting display Monday night at SAP Center, but both goaltenders were up to the task as each allowed only one goal in regulation.

It would go to the shootout where Antti Niemi and Marc-Andre Fleury would continue their outstanding duel. Ultimately, Tommy Wingels would score the decisive goal in the eighth round of the shootout as the Sharks defeated the Penguins 2-1.

The Sharks would strike first late in the first period after Ben Smith created a turnover behind the net and Chris Tierney fed Matt Nieto with a perfect pass as he fired home his seventh goal of the season.

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Both goalies would stand tall during a back-and-forth second period that saw both teams create plenty of scoring chances. Pittsburgh came after San Jose with wave-after-wave of pressure to begin the third period and captain Sidney Crosby would tie the game at one with a backhand shot that would beat Niemi on the far side. It was Crosby’s first-ever goal against the Sharks in seven career games.

After the goal, the Sharks would rely heavily on Niemi as he withstood constant attacks from the Penguins as San Jose struggled to get the puck out of their zone. Pittsburgh would outshoot the Sharks 13-8 in the period but it felt much worse.

Continuing with the theme of the night, the overtime session saw plenty of odd-man rushes both ways with neither team able to convert past the two goaltenders.

It was a huge two points for San Jose who moved three points behind the Calgary Flames for third place in the Pacific Division. While this wasn’t one of the Sharks best games, it’s the kind of goaltending that San Jose will need down the stretch if they have any shot of making the playoffs.

Niemi was simply spectacular in thwarting each oncoming attack from the Penguins. Hopefully this will be a sign of things to come from Niemi as San Jose has now won three of their past four games as they try to mount a comeback.

The mountain is still pretty tall for the Sharks at the moment, but they are still offering a glimmer of hope that they can get it done.