Niemi makes 24 saves as Sharks blank Jets 2-0
WINNIPEG - Antti Niemi made 24 saves to claim his second shutout of the season in a 2-0 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday.
Logan Couture scored the game’s first goal at 13:36 of the second period and left-winger Brad Winchester made it 2-0 early in the third for the Sharks (24-11-5), who have won five of their last six games.
Couture scored for the second straight game but it was the skilled work of defenceman Brent Burns that made it happen against Winnipeg (20-18-5).
Burns picked the puck up outside his blue-line, bounced the puck off the left-side boards ahead of himself and then took control of it again.
Just as it looked like he was going to go around the back of the net, Burns sent a quick backhand pass to Couture, who snapped the puck into the net while goalie Ondrej Pavelec was out of position.
It was Couture’s 18th goal of the season and gave him 31 points.
Pavelec faced 37 shots in his 36th start of the season as the Jets lost for the fourth time in their past five games.
San Jose has picked up 11 of a possible 12 points in January and continue to lead the Pacific Division with 53 points.
Winchester got his stick on a bouncing puck for his fifth goal of the season.
Both teams were 0-2 on the power play.
Notes: The Sharks are 17-1-3 when leading after the second period, while the Jets are 0-14-2 when trailing after two ... Jets defenceman Dustin Byfuglien, named to the 2012 NHL all-star team, missed his eighth game with a knee injury. Fellow blue-liner Zach Bogosian was out with a lower-body injury he suffered in Tuesday’s loss to Boston.