Niemi able to shrug off lackluster Game 1

By:
05/30/2010 2:48 PM - From chicagoblackhawks.com: (link)

CHICAGO --  You could almost hear the San Jose Sharks sitting around their TVs watching Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final asking each other the same question.
 
"Where was this
Antti Niemi when we were playing the Blackhawks?"
 
After allowing 2 goals or less in each game of Chicago's sweep of San Jose in the Western Conference Finals, Niemi allowed 3 goals in the first period of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Philadelphia Flyers Saturday.
 
After two periods, Niemi had allowed 5 goals on 26 shots.
 
But when the chips were down, the 26-year-old rookie produced a perfect third period and gave his team the chance to emerge with a 6-5 victory Saturday and 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
 
"I thought he was great in third period,"
Patrick Sharp said of Niemi, who only had to make six saves over the final 20 minutes. "That's what the great thing about Antti is. It doesn't matter how many he lets in, he's always going to make that next save. I thought when it was a tie game and we got the lead there, he played his best hockey. Very sharp toward the end."
 
Niemi won't send the film of Game 1 to the Hockey Hall of Fame, and a six-save period won't get him on many highlight shows. But he made two big saves late in the period on Jeff Carter and Danny Briere to preserve the lead.
 
Mike Richards let a long shot go from the blue line with some bodies in front of Niemi, including the dangerous scoring duo of Simon Gagne and Carter. Niemi was able to see through the screen and stop Carter's redirection and control the rebound with just 5:27 remaining.
 
Briere's blast from the top of the circles with 2:06 remaining was snared by Niemi and was the last great chance for the Flyers.
 
"I felt Grade A, pretty good at first. Of course, giving up five goals is not good for your focus," Niemi said. "I can't get too negative about the goals and started thinking about those too much."
 
Niemi certainly wasn't at his best, but it was hard to fault him on most of the goals.
 
Ville Leino was credited with the game's first goal when his shot from the right wing was stopped by Niemi, resulting in the rebound kicking off defenseman
Niklas Hjalmarsson and into the net. Scott Hartnell's power-play goal was the result of a net-mouth scramble in which Niemi made multiple saves before the puck was chipped over him.
 
Briere put the Flyers ahead 3-2 when he followed his own shot from the slot and popped the loose puck home while nary a Blackhawks' defender laid a body on him.
 
Blair Betts' first goal of the postseason that put the Flyers ahead 4-3 was probably the one Niemi would want back. Aaron Asham's goal was a one-timer off a broken play that Niemi had no chance of stopping.
 
"They got point-blank chances, chances that we normally don't give up," Blackhawks winger
Kris Versteeg said. "We got to clear pucks and play smarter. The way he rebounded and kept a level head and played smart, man, that's a lot of props to him to be able to stick with it and really get a win tonight."
 
While Flyers coach Peter Laviolette pulled Michael Leighton after allowing 5 goals, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said he never entertained the thought of yanking Niemi.
 
"I thought the goals we gave him, I think our coverage wasn't as sharp as needed to be," Quenneville said. "They put a lot of pucks at the net, created a lot of confusion. I think we have to be sharper in that area.
 
"I wasn't looking at the goalie to make that change. I thought he gave us a chance, and I thought he did what he had to do, particularly in the third."
 
Niemi gave up 5 goals in 40 minutes in Game 1 of the Blackhawks' second-round series against the Vancouver Canucks, but responded with 24 saves on 26 shots in a Game 2 victory. If he can do the same in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, the Blackhawks could come away with a commanding lead in the series.



Search Archive »




Browse by Year »

2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
2007
200
0

Browse by Month »

September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010

December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
December 0200