The play of Antti Niemi was the difference. And maybe a quick whistle, too.
Niemi stopped all 31 shots he faced and the Sharks were able to hold on for a 2-0 win over the visiting Chicago Blackhawks in a physical affair Saturday evening. San Jose grabbed a lead at the 5:09 mark of the opening period thanks to a goal from Melker Karlsson that appeared to go in off Chicago’s Duncan Keith.
From there, it was the Niemi Show. His teammates manufactured only 20 shots on goal the entire night.
He made a spectacular save on Jonathan Toews on a short-handed breakaway late in the second period, and then denied the Blackhawks’ captain numerous times on the ensuing scramble in the San Jose crease before a quick whistle with the puck clearly visible to everyone except the referee stopped play.
Joe Thornton scored into an empty net to secure the win for San Jose.