SAN JOSE, Calif. - Antti Niemi will start in goal for the San Jose Sharks in the opener of their first-round playoff series against Los Angeles.
Coach Todd McLellan said before Thursday night's game that he is sticking with Niemi over rookie Alex Stalock despite Niemi's late-season struggles. Niemi has started all 34 playoff games since joining the Sharks in the 2010-11 season.
Also, forward Raffi Torres is back after the missing the final 17 games of the regular season with an injury. Torres played just five games all year after tearing a knee ligament in the preseason.
Rookie Tomas Hertl will make his playoff debut. Hertl missed 45 games after an illegal knee-on-knee hit from Los Angeles captain Dustin Brown on Dec. 19 but returned for the final two games of the season.
It is really special. I had a lot of friends and family here tonight, and for my first [NHL] game in here it was great. I played here as an elementary-school player in the city championships and this was my first time back. It was a lot of fun.
— Toronto native Brandon Pirri after scoring 2 goals for Panthers in win at Maple Leafs on Thursday