SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The Chicago Blackhawks threw everything they had at former teammate Antti Niemi on Saturday, but everything wasn't enough, as Niemi made 31 saves in a 2-0 San Jose Sharks victory at SAP Center.
How it happened: The Blackhawks came out looking a little leg-weary in their third game in four nights. The Sharks scored early in the first period, and Marian Hossa took an interference penalty at 12 minutes, 33 seconds of that frame, when he got caught behind the play in the Sharks' end. Blackhawks goalie Antti Raanta had to make two nice stops to kill the power play. Despite leading the NHL in first-period goals (55), the Hawks managed just nine shots and trailed 1-0 at the first intermission.
Jonathan Toews missed two point-blank, short-handed attempts on a prone Niemi at 14:35 of the second period, before Niemi was able to slide the puck beneath himself and get a stoppage.
The Hawks pulled Raanta for an extra attacker with 80 seconds to play, and when Joe Thornton got behind the Hawks at Chicago's blue line just 10 seconds later, the empty-netter was as easy as it could be.
What it means: The Hawks dominated the first meeting between the teams by jumping out to a 3-0 first-period lead on their way to a 5-2 victory Nov. 9. San Jose was playing the second game of a back-to-back set and its third game in four days.
This time, the roles were reversed. The Hawks are in the midst of a seven-game road trip and played their third game in four nights at the tail end of a back-to-back after clobbering the NHL's best, the Anaheim Ducks, on Friday night.
The Hawks played a solid game and demonstrated great effort despite the fatigue, but they ran into a hot goalie in Niemi, who was 4-0-1 in his previous five starts with a 2.00 goals-against average and .927 save percentage in the victories.
Player of the game: Niemi stopped everything thrown at him -- and a lot was thrown at him. Niemi recorded his 31st NHL shutout and 24th as a Shark.
Stat of the game: Saturday's game was the first in NHL history to feature goaltenders both named Antti.
What's next: The Hawks continue their marathon road trip with a stop Tuesday in St. Paul to face the Minnesota Wild.