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Colorado at San Jose

Niemi perfect in shootout, Sharks edge Avalanche

CBSSports.com wire reports
  •  

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Even when they come out flat, the San Jose Sharks are somehow finding ways to win these days. The Colorado Avalanche can't seem to end up on the winning side even on nights they play well.

Antti Niemi was perfect in the shootout only hours after getting a contract extension, and Ryane Clowe scored the only goal of the tiebreaker to give the surging Sharks a 2-1 victory against the Avalanche on Tuesday night.

Western Conference
SeedTeamGPPTSROW
1p-Chicago487730
2y-Anaheim486624
3y-Vancouver485921
4x-St. Louis486024
5x-Los Angeles485925
6x-San Jose485717
7x-Detroit485622
8x-Minnesota485522
Eliminated
9o-Columbus485519
10o-Phoenix485117
11o-Dallas484820
12o-Edmonton484517
13o-Calgary484219
14o-Nashville484114
15o-Colorado483914
Complete Playoff Race >>

"It wasn't pretty, it was a greasy win," Clowe said. ""It was nice to get the win, but it wasn't our best game by any means."

The Sharks were blanked for more than 57 minutes by a team that had won only once since Jan. 24 before Joe Thornton tied it with 2:58 remaining in regulation. Clowe then won it in the shootout, giving San Jose its seventh consecutive victory and 16th in 19 games.

Niemi made 18 saves to cap a day that began with him signing a $15.2 million, four-year extension.

Erik Johnson scored a power-play goal and Brian Elliott made 34 saves in his third game for Colorado since being acquired in a trade from Ottawa late last month for Craig Anderson. But the Avalanche could not close it out and lost for the 14th time in 15 games.

"The hockey gods just aren't with us right now," center Matt Duchene said. "It's frustrating. It's almost laughable at this point. We work that hard, we play that well, with a team with that much offense, with so many guys having great seasons, we hold them to no goals with four minutes left and they find some way to score. It's pretty frustrating."

Clowe opened the shootout by firing a forehand past Elliott. This marked the second successive game in which Clowe scored the deciding goal in a shootout and the second successive time he did it with his forehand instead of his usual shootout move to the backhand.

"I was thinking of probably going backhand," Clowe said. "I looked up and saw he might have been leaning a little bit to the glove side so I decided to go low blocker. That's always a tough save for the goalie anyway."

Niemi stopped Milan Hejduk after Clowe's goal and then Duchene hit the post and David Jones shot wide for the Avalanche, who had won their previous three shootouts this season.

Colorado has scored two goals or fewer in 11 of its past 15 games and managed few good scoring chances against Niemi with only 19 shots.

"Of course it's frustrating," coach Joe Sacco said. "You're playing one of the better teams in the conference. You shut them down for the majority of the game. They still had some good chances, their goaltender made some good saves, but at the end of the day we didn't get the job done."

The Avalanche broke up a scoreless game with a power-play goal early in the third. With Niclas Wallin in the penalty box for holding, Johnson stopped a clearing attempt by Jason Demers at the blue line. Johnson beat Niemi with a high wrist shot for his seventh goal just 78 seconds into the period.

The Sharks were unable to tie it on a power play of their own minutes later -- their fourth failed chance with the man advantage -- and then Joe Pavelski was robbed by the crossbar on a hard shot from the slot midway through the third that got the fans excited but was immediately waved off by the referee.

San Jose finally got the equalizer when Thornton made a nifty deflection at the side of the net of a point shot by Demers late in regulation.

"We challenged our big guys between periods that they have to step up a little bit and lead," coach Todd McLellan said. "Jumbo ended up getting the tying goal. It took that long. We told them the rule-maker allows us 60 minutes to find one at least. We used almost the full 60. It was nice to see them step up."

The game got off to a sluggish start, with each team having only one shot on goal in the first 10-plus minutes of the opening period. Both teams killed off a penalty in the second half of the period, with Elliott making the toughest saves on a point shot by Pavelski followed by the rebound by Demers.

There were only a few more chances in the second period but still no goals. Devin Setoguchi was robbed alone in close by Elliott early in the period. Niemi made a tough sliding stop against Kevin Porter, who was all alone at the side of the goal midway through the second.

Notes

  • Colorado had allowed a power-play goal in eight consecutive games before stopping San Jose on all four chances. The Sharks came into the game with the NHL's third-best power play.
  • The Sharks were undermanned after placing F Scott Nichol and D Kent Huskins on IR before the game with upper-body injuries. Defenseman Dan Boyle and F Ben Eager also sat with upper-body injuries.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Hours before posting another win, Antti Niemi signs a four-year extension to stay in San Jose. (AP)
Hours before posting another win, Antti Niemi signs a four-year extension to stay in San Jose. (AP)
Scoreboard
Colorado (26-30-8)00100 (0)1
San Jose  (37-21-6) «00101 (1)2
Three Stars
A. Niemi
SJ


Saves: 18
Save Pct.: .947
B. Elliott
COL


Saves: 34
Save Pct.: .971
J. Thornton
SJ


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 0

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Scoring Summary
1ST PERIOD
None
2ND PERIOD
None
3RD PERIOD
01:18Power Play - Erik Johnson (7), Wrist Shot, Unassisted.
17:02 - Joe Thornton (16), Tip-In. Assist: Demers, Setoguchi
OT
None
SHOOTOUT
  - Ryane Clowe (3), GOAL
Penalty Summary
1ST PERIOD
09:23Couture, 2 min, Holding the Stick
16:24Liles, 2 min, Hooking
2ND PERIOD
02:10Stoa, 2 min, Holding
14:55Stastny, 2 min, Roughing
3RD PERIOD
41.0Wallin, 2 min, Holding the Stick
04:37McClement, 2 min, Boarding
OT
None
SHOOTOUT
None
Shots On Goal
 123T
COL55717
SJ9101130
Goalies
GoalieMINSSGASO SSO GA
Brian Elliott 65:0034131
Antti Niemi 64:5518130
Game Information
Attendance - 17562
Referees - Chris Lee, Chris Rooney
Linesmen - Brian Mach, Vaughan Rody
 
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