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(Sunday, March 16th)
Final Score: San Jose 1, NY Rangers 0
New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Antti Niemi turned aside 41 shots for his fourth shutout of the season, and San Jose edged the Rangers, 1-0, at Madison Square Garden.
"He was unbelievable. Some of the stops he made were incredible," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said. "That may be his best game all year."
Logan Couture recorded the lone score of the contest for the Sharks, who swept their three-game eastern road swing and have won six straight overall.
Niemi's whitewash marked the first time San Jose blanked New York in Manhattan since entering the NHL in 1991.
Henrik Lundqvist stopped 28 pucks for the Rangers, who skidded to their sixth loss in their last nine outings. The 32-year-old Swede was denied the club's all-time wins lead by the slimmest of margins. He remains tied with Mike Richter at 301 victories.
"I thought defensively we did what we had to do. Offensively, we did everything but finish. We had some very good looks, but we couldn't pull the trigger," New York coach Alain Vigneault said. "You've got to believe if we keep playing this way, we'll be alright."
Scott Hannan was sent off for a tripping minor at 10:58 of the opening period, and San Jose provided Niemi all the offense he needed during the penalty kill.
Couture gained possession at center ice, blew past Brad Richards on the left wing, cut in and beat Lundqvist to the right post with a backhander only 50 seconds into the New York power play.
"Power plays these days usually have four or five forwards on them. If you can get an isolated 1-on-1 with a forward who is trying to play D, it usually works in our favor," Couture said. "I made a move to the side and tried to get it up as quick as possible."
Niemi backed that marker with 20 saves.
The Rangers were denied a potential tying goal in the second period. Carl Hagelin forced a shot from a severe angle along the goal line to Niemi's left, and after the Finnish backstop virtually glued himself to the post, the puck was obscured underneath his equipment.
A lengthy replay was not conclusive enough to overturn the original no-goal ruling on the ice and the Sharks still led by one. It went into the books as one of seven saves in the middle 20 minutes.
Niemi followed up by refusing 14 Rangers chances in the third period.
Niemi has authored 27 career whitewashes, and 20 of those coming in a Sharks uniform ... The Rangers hadn't been blanked either home or away, since a 5-0 defeat in Tampa Bay on Nov. 25 ... Both teams are back in action on Tuesday, as the Sharks return home to begin a three-game residency against Florida, while the Blueshirts open up a three-game trip at Ottawa.
03/16 20:40:45 ET
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