Antti Niemi Beats His Old Team, Sharks Defeat Blackhawks 5-2

The Sharks came into this one prepared and played a mostly-good game, beating the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, CA. For more on the game and the team in general, head over to our San Jose Sharks blog, Fear The Fin.

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NHL Western Conference Scores And Standings: Parity? Well ... Sometimes

Recap Of Wednesday's Western Conference Games:

Columbus Blue Jackets 4 @ New York Islanders 3. A close overtime win and the Blue Jackets continue rolling in the contested central division. They are just above the St. Louis Blues and riding right along with ... the Detroit Red Wings? Holy crap! The shutout of the Sharks doesn't look so bad at this point.

Detroit Red Wings 1 @ Atlanta Thrashers 5. Well, that is something. The Thrashers picked a good time to play a complete game for the first time this season when the Red Wings came to town. Detroit now sits with the aforementioned Blue Jackets riding shotgun in the Central Division. Ondrej Pavelec was solid, with 32 of 33 saves made.

Los Angeles Kings 1 @ Montreal Canadiens 4. I hope you feel better about yourselves, Sharks fans. You drew blood on the Kings and they've been unable to recover ever since. They've lost five of their last six, with the first of that six being in San Jose. On Wednesday, Montreal continued their streak against the Kings and made it six victories in a row against them. Jonathan Bernier, in net to relieve Jonathan Quick, gave up 4 goals on 33 shots. The Kings sit behind the Coyotes in the Pacific Division and sixth in the Western Conference. San Jose sits at eighth.

Dallas Stars 2 @ Ottawa Senators 1. Dallas righted a two-game losing skid to keep themselves afloat in the division and conference standings. They are one point behind San Jose and sit at fourth in the Pacific Division with the win over the Sens. Credit Brenden Morrow for the win as he notched the go-ahead goal early in the third and was instrumental in them holding the lead throughout. Or maybe you should credit Mike Ribeiro, who worked the puck magnificently to where it needed to be. Morrow's just a biter.

Calgary Flames 1 @ New Jersey Devils 2. Ilya Kovalchuk was the only successful goal in the shootout as the Devils beat the Flames. Beautiful shot, a wrister high to the glove side that Henrik Karlsson never had a chance to stop, losing in his first career shutout. The Flames are sitting at fourth in the Northwest Division, 14th in the Western Conference, and need a turnaround very quick here.

St. Louis Blues 2 @ Nashville Predators 1. Well, the Blues won the game they needed to, so they could keep it close in the Central Division, behind both Columbus and Detroit. Unfortunately for St. Louis, those two teams don't look to be slowing down any time soon. Fortunately for St. Louis, they sit at fifth in the Western Conference standings and control their own fate.

Philadelphia Flyers 6 @ Minnesota Wild 1. Show of hands for those of us who saw this coming? I thought so. The Flyers got it done, annihilating the poor Wild along the way. Danny Briere, Andreas Nodi and Ville Leino were all good for a goal and an assist. The Wild fall further from first and second place in the Northwest Division and will need to turn things around.

Colorado Avalanche 2 @ Vancouver Canucks 4. The Avalanche's rise through the Northwest Division was halted Wednesday when the Canucks bested them to the tune of 4-2. Now the two teams share the top and control their own destinies. It was a good game, though. Ryan Kesler notched the game winner in the third period before Vancouver got themselves an insurance goal to go up two. Roberto Luongo stopped 21-of-23. Craig Anderson was pulled after a groin injury and Peter Budaj gave up three goals on only 12 shots in the final forty minutes of play.

Going Forward

It's Turkey Day in America, which means there's not a lot of hockey today. But there is some more Western Conference action, as the Avalanche take on the Oilers.

Colorado Avalanche @ Edmonton Oilers, 6:00 p.m. PST. They've just dropped one to the Canucks after a four-game win streak, but have an easier test in the Oilers and can take sole position of the division if they win. Should be a good one, if you like one-sided beatdowns.

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Recap: Antti Niemi And The Sharks Get The Win Over The Blackhawks

An empty net goal at 19:57 of the game via Patrick Marleau was his second of the night, and nothing more than icing on the cake for the San Jose Sharks, who beat the Chicago Blackhawks in a decisive 5-2 game. It was the two teams' first meeting since the Western Conference Finals last season where the Blackhawks swept San Jose in four games.

Marleau's first goal came seven minutes earlier at 13:47 of the third period on a San Jose Sharks power play. Joe Thornton took the puck up center ice and fired a pass to "Patty," who turned on the jets and beat his man handily, putting a wrist shot in behind Marty Turco, who didn't even see him coming. The goal gave San Jose a two-goal, 4-2 lead.

Dany Heatley got the action started with a goal in the first period off of a Devin Setoguchi assist that saw him spin around a defenseman and fire off a desperation shot that was just as confusing as it was impressive. It was also kind of hilarious.

Douglas Murray came up big for the Sharks, though he didn't pick up any goals or assists. He did, however, control the puck well, create a lot of scoring opportunities, and had a very impressive diving save late in the third period after the Blackhawks went empty net. Chicago fired on net and the goalie was out of position, but Murray made a diving save with his hand and pushed it away before drawing a penalty.

Antti Niemi made 30 of 32 saves against his old team and had a .937 save percentage. Niemi drew the start over Antero Niittymaki, despite the fact that the latter has been playing better of late. It seems the motivation of playing his old team was enough to give Niemi the ability to win it for San Jose.

With two assists, Joe Thornton found himself moving into 85th on the NHL's all-time scoring list with 950 points.

Jake Dowell and Patrick Sharp scored for the Blackhawks, who have alternated wins and losses in their last four games. Marty Turco stopped 24-of-28 shots in defeat for Chicago.

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Sharks-Blackhawks: Murray With The Save?!

Brian Bickell gave the San Jose Sharks a long power play try with around five minutes left in regulation. He was called for holding on Douglas Murray and received two minutes before arguing with the referee and getting another two for his troubles. Cue a Sharks power play that is 2-4 on the night.

Douglas Murray had two shots on goal less than a minute and a half in, both from near the blueline and Marty Turco had to make a falling save to stop it. Desperate to score with little time left in the game, the Blackhawks moved the puck into San Jose's zone down a man and had a shot attempt, but Niemi was able to get on top and cover it. The Blackhawks considered sending in their goalie a man down.

Douglas Murray again making waves as Marty Turco comes out of net for Chicago. The Blackhawks had a big scoring chance as Dave Bolland fired on net following a Niemi save. Niemie seemed to be out of position, the reply shows he might have been able to stop it, but Douglas Murray came in and stopped it with his hand, and got it off of it so it wasn't a penalty.

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Sharks-Blackhawks: Marleau Turns On The Jets, Gets Power Play Goal

Cue sloppy play from both teams as they exchanged turnovers in their respective zones numerous times following the Chicago Blackhawks goal. Every time San Jose gets set up for a scoring opportunity, they give it up before it can get fully established. Once that happens, Chicago takes it back up the ice, fires, misses, and San Jose repeats their efforts of taking it up ice, turning it over and hustling back.

Troy Brouwer had a great chance on Antti Niemi, but Niemi robbed him of the goal. The Sharks commentators make a good point: San Jose is not eliminating chances like they should be. They have a lead, and they are slowing down, like they have been prone to do as of late. They're not moving the puck like they should be and they're giving up the big turnovers.

As I type that, San Jose is awarded a power play at 12:51 off of a delay of game penalty in the Chicago zone during a scoring chance. The power play starts off fast, but the Blackhawks clear it out twice in succession. Joe Thornton takes the puck up center ice and fires a pass to Patrick Marleau, who turned the jets on and blew past a Chicago player to beat Marty Turco with a goal to put San Jose up 4-2 on the Blackhawks.

Is it an insurance goal? It is, after all, a two-goal lead.

Head over to Fear The Fin for gameday discussion in their thread.

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Sharks-Blackhawks: Chicago Cuts It Down To One Goal Lead, Trails San Jose 3-2

Early scare for the Sharks, they gave up the two-on-one with the man advantage and Patrick Marleau barely got himself in on it to break it up. San Jose got back on the attack shortly after, but ultimately couldn't get anything done on the power play and the Blackhawks got back to full strength.

What followed was some lazy hockey, the commentators casually conversing along and I remember that the Sharks hold a two goal lead in the third - seems pretty familiar right as Chicago suddenly fires on net. Marian Hossa fired a deceptively fast shot just shortly after Niemi had made a kick save on another shot from the Blackhawks. Patrick Sharp picked up the rebound and chipped it into the net no problem to bring the Blackhawks within one goal of the lead.

The Sharks lead 3-2 in the third period. They've given up two goal leads to lose in overtime twice in their last three games. Will it happen here?

Fear The Fin has an ongoing discussion in their gameday thread, so head over for that.

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Sharks-Blackhaws: San Jose Will Have 1:50 Of Power Play Time Going Into 3rd With 3-1 Lead

Douglas Murray just misses on an insane shot on goal on San Jose's powerplay. Blackhawks goalie Marty Turco shot his glove hand up and ducked his face down out of the way, but the puck sailed over the goal. Shortly after, the power play was over and we're at even strength. Not much happening as the period winds down, the puck is hovering around center ice as both teams are doing a good job of keeping it out of their own zones, until Devin Setoguchi came in and took it up the ice, he passed to Dany Heatley who came oh so close to scoring, but to no avail.

Just as the period was coming to a close, Tomas Kopecky was called and given two minutes for high sticking, and the Sharks had ten seconds of power play before the second frame ended. The Sharks will have 1:50 on the power play when the final frame of play begins. They hold a 3-1 lead over the Blackhawks heading into the third period.

Be sure to go to SB Nation's Sharks blog, Fear The Fin, and take part in the gameday thread, discuss things with your fellow fan.

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Sharks-Blackhawks: San Jose Kills Two-Man Advantage

We've got a fight going, folks! Ryane Clowe and Troy Brouwer got the fisticuffs started around nine minutes into the second period. Clowe got Brouwer's helmet off early and seemed to get the better of him throughout the fight. He scored with several right uppercuts, but neither man went down and they ran out of gas, leading to a referee stoppage.

Some more fast-paced hockey with limited scoring opportunities due to good defense ensued, then the referees struck again: Scott Nichol was called on a boarding penalty at 11:32 of the second period that was not at all boarding. The rest have been questionable, this one was just ... awful. Little over a minute into the power play, the Sharks committed another penalty and had forty seconds to play down two when Torrey Mitchell was called for tripping.

The Blackhawks worked quickly and almost got a goal in with the two-man advantage, and the Sharks commentating team even called it a goal, only to correct themselves a second later. The Sharks cleared the puck out of the zone and got Scott Nichol out of the box. A minute later, they got MItchell back after clearing the puck another two times.

This time, a call came in favor of San Jose as Joe Pavelski wasn't called on an obvious high stick. A few seconds later, and the Blackhawks were called for a hooking penalty, and I end this update as the Sharks head on to another power play.

Go to Fear The Fin and participate in their gameday thread, because I said so.

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Sharks-Blackhawks: Power Play Goal Puts Sharks Ahead 3-1

My updates just aren't coming fast enough, just after I posted the last one, San Jose put it in net again. Dave Bolland was called on cross checking and headed to the sin bin, Patrick Marleau won the faceoff attempt and got the puck to Joe Pavelski, who picked up a beautiful goal unassisted to further the Sharks lead. They lead 3-1.

Patrick Marleau then drew a penalty for boarding and it's certainly the definition of questionable, according to the Sharks commentating team and myself. Marleau seemed to just be occupying his man and the referees called it. A frantic Chicago Blackhawks power play ensued, and Antti Niemi made some good stops en route to another failed attempt for Chicago. The Sharks successfully killed the second of two power plays to maintain their 3-1 lead.

Head over to Fear The Fin and participate in their gameday discussion, I said now! You can find their gameday thread right here.

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Sharks-Blackhawks: Both Teams Score Early In Second, Sharks Lead 2-1

After a fast-paced first period, the Sharks got things started early into the second frame. Jamal Mayers got the goal at 2:37 of the period, off of assists from John McCarthy and Scott Nichol. This was off of a Nichol faceoff win, a missed shot from McCarthy and Mayers caught it on the rebound.

Didn't take much longer for the Blackhawks to answer back though, Jake Dowell scored off of a faceoff victory against Patrick Marleau. The goal required official review and it took them an awful long time to review. The Sharks broadcasters thought that the goal shouldn't count for the most part, but it was ruled good and the Blackhawks got themselves back to within one and trail the Sharks 2-1 early in the second frame.

Hey, you ... yes, you! If you're not over at Fear The Fin discussing the game with your fellow Sharks fans, I'll punch you right in the mouth. I'm not even joking, that's just what I do, son.

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Sharks-Blackhawks: Sharks Lead 1-0 Going Into Second Period

Following the goal, both teams exchanged immediate chances. Antti Niemi got a few saves in, but so did Marty Turco for the Blackhawks. The Sharks continued their physical game with hit after hit on the Blackhawks and, since the goal, have done a much better job keeping the puck in Chicago's zone.

Through one period, the Blackhawks are still outshooting the Sharks 12-10. Antti Niemi has stopped them all, with 12 saves while Marty Turco has saved 9 of 10. San Jose is out-hitting Chicago. The only goal thus far remains Dany Heatley's score at 13:24 of the opening frame, with Devin Setoguchi and Joe Thornton picking up an assist on the play.

We're sitting at 1-0 with a San Jose Sharks lead heading into the second period. The Sharks need to do a better job of clearing the puck out of their zone and limit the Blackhawks' chances going forward to maintain this lead and assist Niemi.

As always, be sure to head over to our Sharks blog, Fear The Fin, and participate in the gameday discussion.

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Sharks-Blackhawks: Sharks Take 1-0 Lead Off Dany Heatley Goal

After the icing stoppage at 10:55, the Sharks fired off two shots on goal following a Joe Thornton faceoff win, bringing the shot total to 9-7. Shortly after a goalie stoppage, San Jose took more chances, fighting for possession in Chicago's zone, they stopped it from clearing twice before it finally did. Devin Setoguchi happened next, however, taking the puck back into Chicago's zone.

What happened next, I still can't tell if it was hilarious or just impressive. Setoguchi spun around full circle to avoid and seemingly confuse a Blackhawks defenseman, then fired off a shot on goal which went just wide to Dany Heatley, who went around and tossed it in the back of the net. Heatley continues to be San Jose's leading points scorer and Setoguchi picked up another assist for himself. Pretty sure he confused everybody on the ice. Chicago is still out-shooting the Sharks.

Be sure to take part in the discussion over at Fear The Fin and their gameday thread.

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San Jose Fends Off Early Power Play, Scoreless Through Ten Minutes

They're hitting hard and hitting early, as Ryane Clowe drew a boarding penalty in the first minute of play and the San Jose Sharks had to fight off a big power play for the Chicago Blackhawks. A couple great Antti Niemi saves later and the Sharks were out of the power play, which saw plenty of chances for Chicago as San Jose failed to clear it on numerous attempts.

Both teams are commiting turnovers, but it's not so much to sloppy play as it is stellar defensive play for both units, limiting the chances of one another. Following the power play, it was more of the same: hard hitting, turnovers and overall a fast-paced game. The Blackhawks have done a fantastic job of keeping the puck in the Sharks' zone and are out-shooting San Jose thus far 9-5.

Be sure to head over to Fear The Fin and participate in their gameday thread.

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