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Niemi Set Tone In Game 7 Victory

Sharks Goaltender Made 38 Saves In Series Clinching Win

Thursday, 05.12.2011 / 11:04 PM PT / News
By Jim Sparaco
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Niemi Set Tone In Game 7 Victory
San Jose Sharks goalie Antti Niemi (31) shakes hands with Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard (35) after the Sharks defeated the Red Wings 3-2 in Game 7 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Western Conference semifinal playoff series Thursday, May 12, 2011, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
Although they insist it wasn’t an area of focus heading into Thursday night’s game against the Detroit Red Wings, the San Jose Sharks elevated the play of their special teams to skate to an impressive3-2 victory and clinch the second-round series over the Central Division champs and to advance to the Western Conference Finals for the second consecutive year.

The Sharks, who had been shut out on the power play (0 for 10) during the three consecutive losses in the series which forced the decisive Game Seven, tallied a power play goal in the first period to give the Sharks the early lead and to break the scoreless drought. Devin Setoguchi took the feed from Joe Thornton at 12:20 of the first period to score his sixth goal of the playoffs and set the tone for the game while electrifying a sold out HP Pavilion.

“The power play’s taken a lot of heat thus far,” said Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle. “We scored a big power play goal early in the game to get things going and we killed off four huge penalties tonight. We didn’t talk about it necessarily that much, but it came through in our play.”

“Although we don’t talk about it as much, I think special teams is a focus of every series,” added Setoguchi. “The team that can win the special team battles is going to win the series most likely. If you’re winning the power play battle and you’re winning the penalty kill battle you have a good chance at the end of the night that you’re going to win the game. We got a quick power play goal and our penalty kill did a great job and we got the win.”

San Jose Sharks goalie Antti Niemi blocks a Detroit Red Wings shot during the second period of Game 7 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Western Conference semifinal playoff series Thursday, May 12, 2011, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
The Sharks created a multitude of scoring opportunities and quality chances while on the power play to keep the Red Wings back on their heels and more importantly, kept Detroit from taking liberties with the Sharks while skating five-on-five.

Of equal importance, the Sharks were perfect on the penalty kill, successfully killing four Detroit power plays in the game including two big penalty kills in the third period including a slashing penalty against Sharks forward Torrey Mitchell at 14:57.

“The difference tonight is a power play goal and our penalty kill,” added Sharks head coach Todd McLellan. “I thought we had a pretty good plan tonight. They beat us with a drop pass a lot in the series so we adjusted a little bit. We felt that if we didn’t allow them any free entries into our zone we’d have a better opportunity of killing it. We did a pretty good job of that. They really didn’t get set that much. The penalty killers came up big.”

In addition to the stellar special teams play of the Sharks was the equally impressive goaltending from Sharks goaltender Anti Niemi who continued to be the Sharks “Most Valuable Player” of the playoffs by making impressive saves with Red Wings players campoed out in front of him. Niemi faced 40 shots on goal on the night including a barrage of shots in the final two minutes of the game to preserve the victory.

“He’s been our best player the entire year,” said Sharks forward Logan Couture. “He’s really stepped up in the playoffs. He had a couple tough games in the first series against the Kings. But he’s stepped up. He made some big saves for us tonight to get the win. I love playing for ‘Nemo’. Everybody in this room loves playing for ‘Nemo.”

The Sharks now advance to the Western Conference Finals against the Northwest Division Champion and Western Conference’s top-seeded Vancouver Canucks. Game 1 of the series will be played Sunday, May 15 at 5 p.m.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 51 24 7 228 221 109
2 y - STL 82 51 24 7 239 197 109
3 x - NSH 82 47 25 10 226 202 104
4 x - CHI 82 48 28 6 220 186 102
5 x - VAN 82 48 29 5 236 220 101
6 x - MIN 82 46 28 8 227 198 100
7 x - WPG 82 43 26 13 223 204 99
8 x - CGY 82 45 30 7 237 213 97
9 LAK 82 40 27 15 218 197 95
10 DAL 82 41 31 10 257 257 92
11 COL 82 39 31 12 209 223 90
12 SJS 82 40 33 9 224 226 89
13 EDM 82 24 44 14 193 276 62
14 ARI 82 24 50 8 165 267 56

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Pavelski 82 37 33 12 70
L. Couture 82 27 40 -6 67
J. Thornton 78 16 49 -4 65
B. Burns 82 17 43 -9 60
P. Marleau 82 19 38 -17 57
T. Wingels 75 15 21 -7 36
T. Hertl 82 13 18 -5 31
M. Nieto 72 10 17 -12 27
M. Karlsson 53 13 11 -3 24
M. Vlasic 70 9 14 12 23
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Niemi 31 23 7 .914 2.59
A. Stalock 8 9 2 .902 2.62
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