OTTAWA -- San Jose Sharks backup goalie Alex Stalock will make his first NHL start against the Ottawa Senators on Sunday as Antti Niemi finally gets a rest.
Niemi stopped 22 shots Saturday in San Jose's 2-0 win against the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre for his second shutout in three games. He has started all 11 games as the Sharks have gotten off to a league-leading 9-1-1 start.
Stalock's three previous games with the Sharks were all relief appearances, including two last season. He missed nearly a year after having surgery to repair a nerve behind his knee that was severed in a minor league game on February 4, 2011, just three days after he won his NHL debut.
San Jose coach Todd McLellan felt that starting Stalock might spur his teammates to summon some extra effort for a strong finish to their eastern swing.
"Time to get him in and this is a great opportunity for him," McLellan said prior to the game Sunday at Canadian Tire Centre. "I'd like to think that our guys will play really hard for him. It might be a good thing for us playing Alex tonight. Back end of a long road trip, back to back, maybe guys will dig in a little bit more and we'll empty the tanks."