The last time he was in net, Antti Niemi suffered the first series-ending playoff loss of his career as the San Jose Sharks fell one step short of the Stanley Cup finals for a second straight year.
San Jose will likely need another solid season from its Finnish goaltender if it is going to reach the finals for the first time.
Niemi is expected to return from a knee injury and make his season debut Monday night when the Sharks host an Anaheim Ducks team trying to extend its winning streak to four with a second victory in this Pacific Division rivalry in four days.
Niemi, who helped Chicago sweep San Jose in the 2010 Western Conference finals en route to winning a Stanley Cup, saw his first season with the Sharks end with a 3-2, double-overtime loss in Vancouver on May 24. Niemi, who went 35-18-6 with a 2.38 goals-against average in the regular season and started all 18 playoff contests, had won his previous six playoff series prior to getting eliminated by the Canucks in five game...