NHL

Niemi leads Sharks to shootout win over Kings

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Associated Press
4/17/2013 1:53:18 AM
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SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Antti Niemi stopped Jeff Carter on a 2-on-1 in overtime and then was perfect in the shootout to help the San Jose Sharks move into a tie for fourth place in the Western Conference with a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night.

Raffi Torres scored the only goal of the shootout and Brent Burns scored one goal and assisted on another by TJ Galiardi on a productive second-period shift for the Sharks, who followed Monday night's win in Phoenix with a home victory against the Kings.

Niemi made 41 saves, including the key pad stop on Carter in overtime.

Jake Muzzin and Dustin Brown scored for Los Angeles, which fell into a tie with San Jose in the battle for home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Jonathan Quick made 33 saves as the Kings lost their fourth straight road game.

Quick couldn't stop Torres' backhand shot in the third round of the shootout that trickled between his pads. The game ended when Niemi made a pad stop against Mike Richards.

Both teams had chances early in the third period to break a tie but Niemi robbed Dwight King on a shot from the slot after a turnover by Joe Thornton. Quick turned aside good chances from Tommy Wingels, Torres and Galiardi after Los Angeles killed off a penalty later in the period. Niemi stopped Carter on a partial breakaway late in the third to preserve the tie.

This was a physical, intense game between two fierce division rivals who could meet again in the first round of the playoffs if the current standings hold.

There was lots of hitting and scrums after whistles in a game that had a playoff-type feel. Both goaltenders were also sharp early, turning aside tough chances and allowing few rebounds as neither team scored for the first 28 minutes.

The scoring chances picked up midway through the second period with each team tallying twice to send the game to the third period tied at 2.

Burns got the Sharks started on one energetic shift. It began with him stealing an outlet from Dustin Penner as soon as he came on the ice and then skating in to beat Quick with a wrist shot from the slot to make it 1-0.

Burns was joined for the ensuing faceoff by linemates Thornton and Galiardi, and after a strong forecheck he sent a centring pass from the corner that Galiardi tipped in from in front of the blue paint to make it 2-0.

Niemi looked as though he would make that lead stand up, especially when he robbed Richards with a pair of glove saves in traffic to help kill a two-man advantage for Los Angeles.

But the Kings got on the board on the 5-on-4 power play when Muzzin's point shot beat Niemi, ending San Jose's nearly 147-minute scoreless streak, dating to the first period Saturday in Dallas.

Los Angeles tied it late in the period during 4-on-4 play when Brown poked in a loose rebound of Anze Kopitar's shot past Niemi with 1:19 left.

NOTES: Thornton's assist on Galiardi's goal was his 500th with San Jose. ... Sharks D Scott Hannan played for the first time since being acquired from Nashville on April 3. Hannan, who had been sidelined by a sore neck, last played for San Jose during the 2007 playoffs. ... Los Angeles D Matt Greene (back) is back travelling with the team and practicing but not yet ready to play. ... The Sharks wore their usual road white sweaters at home because the Kings requested to wear dark uniforms.

Antti Niemi (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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