SAN JOSE – Antti Niemi will be back in goal Saturday night for the Sharks against Nashville, two days after giving up two goals in the first two minutes and four seconds against Pittsburgh and getting pulled for backup Thomas Greiss.
Sharks coach Todd McLellan said the decision to start Niemi was an “easy” one for him to make, even though Greiss gave up just one goal and stopped 29 of 30 shots in a 4-3 shootout win.
“He’s going to be our goaltender when it counts,” McLellan said Saturday of Niemi after the Sharks’ morning skate at HP Pavilion. “He hasn’t had a lot of time throughout training camp and he needs to play some games. So it’s pretty simple. With that being said, Thomas played extremely well. We all appreciate his effort and he’ll get many more opportunities to play this year, but tonight it’s about [Niemi] getting his game back.”
Niemi, who faced just six shots Thursday, said he’s ready to put the game behind him.
“I think just get right back at it. Hopefully get some saves today early on. For my part, I want to get past that game as fast as possible,” Niemi said.
McLellan said he expects Niemi to bounce back and have a solid game.
“The other night I think there was a real focus on us pulling [Niemi], but if we could have pulled 18 other guys and replaced them, we would have done that, too,” McLellan said. “It just happens to be that position where a goaltender gets yanked and he doesn’t go back in. we expect him to be sharp along with the other 18 guys that are dressed.”