Two costly turnovers, an ineffective power play, a porous penalty kill, a lack of traffic in front of Niemi and the absence of some timely saves by Turco all doomed the Hawks in their 5-2 loss.
It takes a better effort to beat a motivated goalie like Niemi and a team still as good as the Sharks are despite what their record may indicate. Niemi, who was off to sub-par start in his first year with Sharks, was able to see things coming his way and it resulted in his third win this season.
"We played great in the [defensive] zone," said Niemi, who made 30 saves. "Also the penalty killing was one of the best of the season. It's easier for a goalie to play."
The Hawks' up-and-down trends continued as they failed to build off their most dominating win of the season Saturday against the Vancouver Canucks. The Sharks had lost three in a row heading into the game Wednesday.
"I liked the way we started the game," coach Joel Quenneville said. "We had some good intensity right out of the gate. That first goal [by the Sharks] was tough. Having that lead was important."
That first goal -- scored by Dany Heatley at 13:24 in the first period -- came after a Nick Boynton turnover in the defensive zone. It was the beginning of a tough game for Boynton. His second turnover resulted in Joe Pavelski's unassisted power-play goal, which came 1:30 after the Hawks had made it a 2-1 game.
"He got kind of behind on [the first one]," Quenneville said of Boynton. "The other one has to get down the ice. I don't think we need to make a play there."
Special teams were a big factor. The Sharks converted, going 2-for-6. The Hawks did not, which included 44 seconds of a 5-on-3 advantage.
"We just have to be better on our power play and penalty kill," captain Jonathan Toews said. "That will make a huge difference for us against a team like that."
As far as Turco, who allowed four goals on 28 shots, Quenneville said he was "just all right." On the other side, Niemi, who helped lead the Hawks to their first Stanley Cup in 49 years, served as an inspiration for his new team. The Hawks walked away from Niemi and his arbitration award in the summer and signed Turco.
"We had a pretty good idea that he would be a motivating factor for the rest of the players and I'm glad to see that they showed up and played for him," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "We played a more complete game than we've played in a while."
Jake Dowell and Patrick Sharp both scored for the Hawks, who were able to cut it to 3-2 early in the third period. But Patrick Marleau swung things back in the Sharks' favor when he skated around Jassen Cullimore on a power play and beat Turco.
"Getting a win against them was huge," Niemi said.