Niemi leads Sharks past Penguins 2-1 in shootout

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Antti Niemi made 39 saves and stopped seven of eight shootout attempts to lead the San Jose Sharks to their 10th straight home win against the Pittsburgh Penguins, 2-1 on Monday night.

Tommy Wingels beat Marc-Andre Fleury with a backhand in the eighth round of the shootout, and Niemi made it stand up by stopping Steve Downie. Matt Nieto scored the lone goal for the Sharks, who had lost nine of their previous 10 home games overall.

But they have dominated the Penguins at the Shark Tank of late. San Jose has 11 wins and one tie since its last home loss to the Penguins on Oct. 22, 1997.

Sidney Crosby tied the game earlier in the third with his first goal in seven career games against the Sharks.

The Sharks killed a penalty in overtime and survived Derrick Pouliot hitting the post in the closing seconds before winning it in the shootout.

Melker Karlsson scored in the third round for San Jose, and Kris Letang answered for Pittsburgh for the only goals in the tiebreaker before Wingels’ winner.

The Sharks moved three points behind Calgary in the race for third place in the Pacific Division with Los Angeles one point ahead of San Jose. The Flames have played one fewer game than San Jose, and the Kings have two games in hand.

The Penguins remained in third place in the Metropolitan Division, one point behind the New York Rangers and four in back of the Islanders.

After numerous chances in the first two periods, the Penguins finally got one past Niemi midway through the third. Justin Braun failed to keep a puck in at the blue line, and Pittsburgh quickly attacked. Crosby took a pass from David Perron and beat Niemi with a backhand to the far post to tie the game at 1.

Niemi played one of his best games of the season to help boost the Sharks’ dwindling playoff chances. He kept San Jose in the game early as Pittsburgh started fast and then withstood a few barrages in the second period to help preserve the lead.

In one particularly strong sequence midway through the second, Niemi stopped Evgeni Malkin on a rush up ice, and then sprawled back into position to get his pad on a rebound attempt by Chris Kunitz.

The Sharks nearly added to the lead after that, but Fleury made his second key stop of the period against Tomas Hertl, who was robbed in close in the opening minutes of the second.

Despite getting outplayed for much of the first period, San Jose came out of it with a 1-0 lead. The Sharks failed to generate many chances on two power plays but scored in the final minute of the period. Ben Smith took the puck away from Kris Letang behind the net, and Chris Tierney fed Nieto in front for the goal.

NOTES: The Penguins went 0-for-12 on the power play over the four-game trip. … The Sharks scored first for the sixth straight game. … Sharks D Brent Burns played his 700th career game and celebrated his 30th birthday.

This article was written by Josh Dubow from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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