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Huskins, Niemi in lineup against Flames

by Cecile Nguyen / San Jose Sharks
Defenseman Kent Huskins got the green light from Head Coach Todd McLellan, at the morning media scrum, to lace up for tonight’s game against the Calgary Flames.


Huskins had the day off from practice yesterday after being stuck by the puck late in the second period of Thursday's 2-1 shootout win over the New York Islanders. The six-foot-four d-man was listed as questionable.

Derek Joslin, who has been held out of the lineup because of an injured thumb but skated with the team at the morning skate today, would have been the likely choice to play if Huskins was out.

FINDING NEMO IN NET
Also in the lineup, Antti Niemi, who gets the call in goal tonight.

This will be Niemi’s sixth start this year and only the Stanley Cup-winning goalie’s third start at home.

“Nemo (Niemi) hasn’t played in our building for a long time and I don’t want that to go on much longer,” Head Coach Todd McLellan said. “This is a chance for him to get back in and do what he’s suppose to do.”

The six-foot-two netminder’s last home start was nearly a month ago when the Sharks fell 5-2 to the Carolina Hurricanes on Oct. 19.

Niemi will be facing the Calgary Flames for the second time this season. The Finnish netminder had a rough start in Calgary almost two weeks ago when he gave up three goals on five shots -- San Jose eventually loss the lopsided game 4-0.

“He’s worked very hard in practice and he’s earned the opportunity to play,” McLellan said of Niemi. “Nitty (Antero Niittymaki) has been very good and he needs a little bit of a rest at some point. We’re in the middle of seven games in 12 nights so we have to take that into consideration.”

SHARKS READY FOR THE FLAMES
Head Coach Todd McLellan said that though the San Jose Sharks suffered a rough 4-0 loss in Calgary Oct. 24, tonight’s rematch isn’t going to be about revenge.

“When we prepare the team we’re not necessarily talking about revenge and getting back at them,” said McLellan. “We’re talking about establishing our game. If we do those things and do the things we’re suppose to then we’ll have an opportunity to compete against a pretty good team. We’ll give ourselves a chance. For us to go in there and rub it in their noses isn’t the motivation we’re going to use.”

The roles will be reverse this time around as Calgary played last night in Phoenix, falling 5-4 to the Coyotes. San Jose was on the back-end of a back-to-back when they faced the Flames last time, having played the Edmonton Oilers less than 24 hours prior.

“Calgary lost last night, so they’ll be fired up and ready to go tonight,” Captain Joe Thornton said. “I think coming out on back-to-back nights is tough to kind of rebound like that. For tonight’s game, if we can get on them early, like they got out on us early in Calgary, that’s going to be key to get a good start.”

GETTING THE POINTS
Even with the team in a mild scoring slump, the San Jose Sharks are still finding ways to earn points.

“It’s essential, we can’t let points get away from us,” McLellan said. “Last night, I was sitting and talking with my wife and we’re three wins from being out of first place but we’re a few wins from being in last place -- it’s the NHL, it’s that tight. We understand that. There’s still 68 games left to play.”

McLellan said the coaching staff and team remain positive and are looking at the upside during this scoring snide as opposed to focusing on the negative.

“Even in this scoring slump, we’ve defended so well,” he added. “We kept the shot total down much fewer than we were giving up last year at this time. Goal total are also down. The commitment to that side of the puck has been strong. We just need to continue that.”

TONIGHT’S MATCHUP
San Jose will host the Calgary Flames at 7 p.m. The game will be on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and www.sjsharks.com. Tickets can be found at www.ticketmaster.com and at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office.
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