Sharks notebook: Niemi getting comfortable

Sharks notebook: Niemi getting comfortable
February 6, 2011, 1:09 am
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Kevin KurzCSNCalifornia.com

Although goalie Antti Niemi didnt have to stand on his head, he did have to make a few very tough saves among his 26 in San Joses 2-0 win over Boston on Saturday afternoon.

RECAP: Niemi skunks Bruins, Sharks 2-0 on road trip
Antero Niittymaki was unable to dress due to re-tweaking a reported groin injury, so it was Niemi making his eighth straight start. He stopped David Krejci with a nice pad save late in the second period to preserve the Sharks lead, and then in the third was able to keep his eye on the puck through traffic on Patrice Bergerons bid for the top corner.NEWS: Sharks' Niittymaki tweaks groin injury in practice
Todd McLellan said that Niemi is fully acclimated to his new surroundings after signing as a free agent out of Chicago over the summer, and it shows. Furthermore, by being the only viable option with Niittymaki hurt again, it helps his preparation.He is now a Shark, said McLellan. Hes fit in very well, he feels comfortable, he knows the guys, and he knows how everybody is going to react in certain situations.He also knows hes playing. With the injuries that we have to the goaltending group in our organization, he knows that hes going to put the pads on and play. He can be comfortable with that, and the rest at the All-Star break I think helped him.Thorntons returnIts several years removed since he left town, but Sharks captain Joe Thornton is always glad to come back to the place in which he called home for the first eight-plus seasons of his career. Saturday marked his third game at the TD Garden since he was traded to San Jose on Dec. 1, 2005.I really enjoyed my time here and I still have a lot of family and friends still here, and I always like coming back. But, Im a Shark, and I like being out there, said Thornton.He doesnt put any added value on the fact that it was Boston on the losing end against his current club.Its just a win, he deadpanned. Maybe the first time I was here I wanted to win that first one, but now its just like any other road game.Thornton could have ended up as one of the goats of the game after he was sent to the box for tripping Adam McQuaid at 10:10 of the third period, but the Sharks killed the penalty and kept their 1-0 lead.Too much chirping?There was one particularly odd call in the second period that went against San Jose. With the Sharks controlling the puck in the offensive zone, the referees suddenly blew the play dead and called a bench minor for unsportsmanlike conduct at 10:03.Apparently, someone from the bench was using some, lets say, salty language in the direction of the officials.As anyone who watched HBOs 247 would know, Theres a lot of f-bombs out there, said Dan Boyle. I dont know who said it, but usually you need a little bit more than that to earn a penalty.Boyle added he didnt know who said it, and when McLellan was asked about it, said, it wasnt the head coach.The Sharks killed off the penalty, which was served by Devin Setoguchi.Scoring streaks intactDespite scoring just two goals, a pair of Sharks kept their scoring streaks going. Setoguchis empty-net goal, on a pretty tough angle from the far boards by the faceoff dot, gives him at least a point in five straight games (4g, 3a). Ryane Clowe, who assisted on both goals, also increased his point-scoring streak to five games (3g, 4a).