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NHL San Jose Sharks

Strong Performance From Antti Niemi Helps Keep San Jose Sharks Unbeaten

Niemi San Jose Sharks

Kelley L. Cox – USA TODAY Sports

The San Jose Sharks improved to 6-0 on the season and remain the team to beat in the Pacific Division with a 3-2 shootout win over the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night.

The now 3-1-1 Ducks gave the Sharks their toughest test of the season so far, but goaltender Antti Niemi made 28 saves and stopped all of Anaheim’s shootout attempts to preserve the win. Logan Couture notched his fourth goal of the season, and Joe Pavelski added his third. Scott Gomez got his first point as a Shark with an assist on Couture’s goal. San Jose is second in the league in both goals scored and goals allowed per game, and have the league’s second best power play.

The two goals scored by the Sharks was the lowest so far this season for an offense getting goals regularly from all of its star players. Patrick Marleau leads the team with nine goals and 14 points, while Joe Thornton has three goals and 14 points. Pavelski has three goals and eight assists, with Couture fourth on the team with his four goals and nine points.

The offseason addition of Brad Stuart to the team’s defense has helped strengthen a penalty kill that now ranks as the 12th best in the league. Dan Boyle is performing well at both ends, and the team has counted on youngsters Justin Braun and Matt Irwin for big minutes as well. Niemi has started and won five of the team’s games so far, with a 1.97 GAA. Backup Thomas Greiss did him one better in his lone appearance this season, shutting out the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday.

It would appear the Sharks have now joined the Chicago Blackhawks as the top teams to beat in the Western Conference. With a potent offense, solidified defense and two solid options in net, this could be the year they finally get to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Jonathan Katje is a hockey writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @JKatje or add him to you network on Google.