That all added up to another win for the Sharks and a 2-0 series lead against the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference semifinals.
Ian White and Niclas Wallin scored their first goals of the postseason, Niemi made 33 saves and the Sharks put together a complete performance to beat the Red Wings, 2-1, in San Jose on Sunday.
Niemi helped kill off three penalties in the opening half of the first period and came up with countless big saves in the final two periods of perhaps his best playoff game since helping Chicago sweep San Jose in the conference finals a year ago.
“We like him on our side a lot better,” forward Dany Heatley said.
White scored on a power play in the first period and Wallin extended the lead early in the third period.
“We weren’t good enough,” said Red Wings coach Mike Babcock, who coached the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League from 1994-2000. “They won more battles than we did. By doing that they end up with the puck more times than we do. They held serve at home. We have to lick our wounds on the flight home.”
Games 3 is Wednesday in Detroit.
The Sharks controlled play in the second period and took control of the scoreboard with the rare goal from Wallin early in the third. He skated into the offensive zone and fired a shot that hit off goalie Jimmy Howard’s shoulder and helmet, popped in the air and fell into the net.
It was Wallin’s fourth goal in 83 postseason games.
“It feels good to score goals,” he said. “I’m not that kind of guy, but I can shoot the puck, too. Just let it go and see what happens. A lucky bounce.”
Lightning 3, at Capitals 2 (OT): Captain Vincent Lecavalier, the No. 1 overall pick in 1998, scored his second goal of the game 6:19 into overtime and the fifth-seeded Lightning beat the top-seeded Capitals for a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Tampa Bay appeared headed for a much simpler victory, leading 2-1 in the third period, but Alex Ovechkin, the No. 1 overall pick in 2004, forced the extra period by scoring with 67 seconds to go in regulation.
The series shifts to Florida for Game 3 on Tuesday.
NHL rookie of the year finalist Jeff Skinner of the Carolina Hurricanes scored twice for Canada in the 9-1 win over France as the Olympic champions advanced to the second round of the ice hockey world championship in Kosice, Slovakia. Wayne Gretzky’s NHL rookie card earned $94,163 at an online memorabilia auction. SCP Auctions said it’s the highest price paid for a hockey card.
Boston at Philadelphia, 4:30 p.m., Versus (Bruins lead series, 1-0)