Sunday, April 20, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Niemi, Sharks blank Red Wings

SAN JOSE — Antii Niemi made 27 saves for his second shutout in two nights and the San Jose Sharks won their third straight game in regulation, beating the Detroit Red Wings, 2-0, on Thursday.

Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns each scored for the third consecutive game for the Sharks, who are on their longest winning streak since starting the season with seven straight wins.

San Jose had won just three of its previous 25 games in regulation before this current streak that started with a home-and-home sweep of first-place Anaheim and ended with a shutout of the rival Red Wings.

The Sharks have moved from ninth place to seventh in the Western Conference with the three wins this week, all coming after general manager Doug Wilson dealt bruising defender Douglas Murray to Pittsburgh for two draft picks.

The Red Wings came into the game as the more rested team having had two days off since beating Phoenix on Monday to improve to 3-0 on this four-game road trip. But they couldn’t complete the perfect Western swing as they failed to generate many scoring chances against Niemi.

Niemi needed to make only 22 saves in the 4-0 win over Anaheim on Wednesday night and wasn’t tested too much more against the Red Wings. He earned back-to-back shutouts for the third time in his career and did on consecutive nights for the first time.

With backup Thomas Greiss out with a neck injury, Niemi has started 11 straight games and has shown no signs of wearing down with the heavy workload.

He made back-to-back saves on Gustav Nyquist and Jordin Tootoo in the second period to thwart Detroit’s best chance and preserve the 1-0 lead.

The Sharks took advantage of a Detroit mistake for an insurance goal early in the third. Joe Thornton took the puck from Brian Lashoff on the forecheck and slid a pass to Burns, who beat Jimmy Howard up high to make it 2-0. Burns now has 10 points in nine games since moving from defense to forward, including goals in three straight.

Niemi preserved the shutout with a nice stop on a backhander by Henrik Zetterberg with Detroit on the only power play of the game later in the third period.

Pavelski got San Jose started on the scoring front for the second straight game when his pass deflected off Niklas Kronwall’s skate and past Howard for a goal with 1:01 left in the opening period. Pavelski has now scored in three straight games after having just one goal in the previous 18 contests.

He had earlier missed an opportunity to score when he attempted a pass to Ryane Clowe on a 2-on-1 that was broken up by the Detroit defense.

The Associated Press

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