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Niemi to make 11th straight start for Sharks

by Eric Gilmore

SAN JOSE -- Less than 24 hours after shutting out the Anaheim Ducks, San Jose goaltender Antti Niemi will make his 11th straight start Thursday night when the Sharks face the Detroit Red Wings at HP Pavilion.

Niemi loves a heavy workload, and he said he has no problem playing back-to-back games.

"Especially when the first game goes pretty good, it's pretty easy to go in the second game," Niemi said Thursday morning after the Sharks' optional skate and brief team meeting. "Just keep on doing what I did last night."

Niemi stopped all 22 shots he faced Wednesday night in the Sharks' 4-0 victory, recording his second shutout of the season and 21st of his career. He improved his record to 14-8-5, lowered his goals-against average to 2.22 and improved his save percentage to .922.

"Nemo's our guy," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "He had a day off in Anaheim, played, day off coming home. Back-to-back, but he (slept) in his own bed. He should be fine."

Niemi is 8-2-2 for his career against Detroit with a 1.96 GAA. In a 2-1 shootout loss on Feb. 28 at HP, he made 33 saves. Niemi has started every game since backup Thomas Greiss suffered a neck injury March 6 at the Calgary Flames that landed him on injured reserve.

As far as Niemi is concerned, the more work the better.

"He's a hockey player," McLellan said. "There's not a guy in there that doesn't want to play three more minutes than they played last night. Everybody wants to dress, and that's a really good thing. And Nemo's no different. He wants the net every night."

Niemi and the Sharks will face a Red Wings team that has won five straight road games, including the first three on their current four-game road trip. The Red Wings defeated the Ducks twice then the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday night.

"It's definitely been a good road trip so far," said Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard, who'll start against San Jose after getting a break Monday night when backup Jonas Gustavsson played all 60 minutes against Phoenix. "Tonight we have a chance to make it a great road trip."

According to Red Wings coach Mike Babcock, the only other change in his lineup from Monday's game is Jordin Tootoo replacing Patrick Eaves at right wing on the fourth line.

Here's how the lineups could look Thursday night when the Sharks face the Red Wings at HP Pavilion:


Martin Havlat - Joe Thornton - Brent Burns

Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Tommy Wingels

TJ Galiardi - Joe Pavelski - Ryane Clowe

James Sheppard - Scott Gomez - Andrew Desjardins

Matt Irwin - Dan Boyle

Jason Demers - Marc-Edouard Vlasic

Brad Stuart - Justin Braun

Antti Niemi

Alex Stalock

Injured: Thomas Greiss (neck), Tim Kennedy (upper body)

Scratched: Michal Handzus, Adam Burish


Justin Abdelkader - Pavel Datsyuk - Johan Franzen

Drew Miller - Henrik Zetterberg - Valtteri Flippula

Daniel Cleary - Joakim Andersson - Damien Brunner

Gustav Nyquist - Cory Emmerton - Jordin Tootoo

Niklas Kronwall - Jonathan Ericsson

Jakub Kindl - Ian White

Brendan Smith - Brian Lashoff

Jimmy Howard

Jonas Gustavsson

Injured: Darren Helm (back), Todd Bertuzzi (back), Kyle Quincey (facial fractures), Mikael Samuelsson (broken finger)

Scratched: Patrick Eaves, Kent Huskins, Carlo Colaiacovo

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