Niemi returns to Sharks net for Game 7

Thornton: 'We worked all 82 games for home ice in this situation'

Niemi returns to Sharks net for Game 7
April 30, 2014, 11:15 am
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I feel good to go.
Antti Niemi


- The Kings beat the Sharks, 4-1, on Monday, sending their series vs. the Sharks to a Game 7 for the second straight postseason. Los Angeles defeated San Jose, 2-1, at Staples Center in Game 7 of the 2013 Conference Semifinals, before getting bounced by the Blackhawks, 4-1, in the Conference Finals.

- Anze Kopitar had two goals and an assist in Game 6, and has now tallied at least one point in all six games of this matchup. Kopitar, who had just three points (2g, 1a) in five games during the 2013-14 regular season against the Sharks, has eight points (3g, 5a) in the first six tilts of this series.

- Justin Williams also had three points (2g, 1a) in Monday's win, garnering first-star honors for his performance, and giving him four goals in his last three skates overall. Williams has played in four Game 7s all-time, and has nine points (5g, 4a) in those contests -- the same total of Game 7 points as all other current Kings combined.

- Patrick Marleau is one of six different Sharks who have exactly one Game 7 goal during their respective careers. Marleau had seven points (3g, 4a) in the first four tilts of this matchup, but has been held pointless in the last two contests.
The Kings (50.0) and Sharks (43.7) have combined to average 93.7 hits per game in this matchup -- most of any two opponents in any postseason series since the 2006 playoffs.

- Los Angeles and San Jose are playing their 20th playoff game since 2011 tonight -- the most by any two opponents over the last 3+ postseasons (Sharks are 10-9 in the prior 19 meetings).

- Los Angeles has played in eight Game 7s all-time, skating off with series wins in four of those matchups. San Jose is 5-3 all-time in Game 7s.

Programming note: Coverage of Game 7 between the Kings and Sharks begins tonight at 6:30 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California (Channel locations)

SAN JOSE -- Sharks goalie Antti Niemi will be back in the net for Game 7 on Wednesday night against Los Angeles.

Niemi was chased in games four and five for Alex Stalock, who played all of Game 6 in Los Angeles, a 4-1 Kings win tying the first-round series at three games apiece.

“I think the break was good for Nemo. He got a chance to work on some things in his game that the goaltending coaches wanted to work [on],” Todd McLellan said. “He got a little chance to rest. Our team needed a change heading into Game 6 in L.A.

“We unfortunately had to pull him twice. That wasn’t all on Nemo’s shoulders, it’s pretty evident and pretty obvious. I hope I’ve made that clear. But, moving forward with Nemo, we want to give Nemo an opportunity.”

Niemi was asked how he could use the removal from the starting lineup for a game to his advantage.

“I got a couple extra practice days in between, maybe work on some stuff. Either way, having a day off from the game, not being so focused, maybe that’s a good thing, too,” he said.

“Nemo has got some rest, and he’ll be ready for tonight," Joe Thornton said.

[RELATED: In the Crease: Game 7]

Niemi was in net for the Sharks in their previous Game 7 at home against Detroit in 2011, making 38 saves in a 3-2 win. A Stanley Cup winner with Chicago in 2010, he has plenty of big game experience to draw upon.

“It’s always a different situation, but of course it gives me a little bit of extra confidence,” he said. “But, it’s more about what’s happening today, and we’ve got to be ready to go.

“I’ve got to think about my own game, and be ready to go early. Do the same things to get ready as I do every day. I feel good to go.”

Niemi is 3-2 with a 3.90 goals-against average and .882 save percentage in the series. In his career, he's 35-25 in the playoffs with a 2.73 GAA and .907 SP.