Sharks give Niemi night off but lose to Coyotes

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The San Jose Sharks are still playing for home ice advantage in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, but head coach Todd McLellan chose to start back-up Thomas Greiss in net against the Phoenix Coyotes.

The Sharks lost 2-1 on a night when Antti Niemi’s streak of 24 consecutive starts came to an end, as per the San Jose Mercury News.

“I don’t think Nemo needs the rest. Thomas needs the work,” McLellan told the San Jose Mercury News prior to the game.

“If something – knock on wood – happens to Nemo, we’re going to kick ourselves in the butt for not having played Thomas. So Thomas is going to play.”

The Coyotes jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead, then hung on for the win. For Greiss, it was his first start since March 6.

“[Greiss] really did well for not having played for so long. He had a very strong game,” Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle told “We just let each other down in that first period.”

The Sharks are fifth in the Western Conference standings with 57 points. They’re tied in points with the L.A. Kings and both teams have played 47 games, however the defending Stanley Cup champions hold the tiebreaker right now with more regulation-overtime wins.

Behind them with the sixth seed in the conference is St. Louis. The Blues have 56 points and two games remaining.