SAN JOSE, Calif. -- It will be Antti Niemi vs. the Blackhawks Wednesday at HP Pavilion. He got the nod from San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan, getting the start over No. 1 Antero Niittymaki.
Things haven't been easy for Niemi in San Jose. He has a 2-4-1 record, a 3.91 goals-against average and a .878 save percentage. Niittymaki is 7-2-3 with a .919 save percentage and a 2.07 goals-against average.
But McLellan said he gave Niittymaki a chance against his former team and the team rallied around him, so he figured to do the same with Niemi.
A $2.75 million arbitration award spelled the end for Niemi in Chicago as the Hawks walked away and signed Marty Turco. Niemi, who backstopped the Hawks to their first Stanley Cup in 49 years, then agreed to a one-year, $2 million deal with Sharks.
"I'm not trying to think about the game too much like it would be too special," Niemi said. "It's just another game and we need to get wins.
"I need to put together some really good games to get some confidence. This is a big chance to do it. At this part of the season ever game is huge."