Patrick Marleau scored two second-period goals and goaltender Antti Niemi made 29 saves as the visiting San Jose Sharks held on for a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs Thursday night at the Air Canada Centre. The San Jose triumph snapped a three-game losing streak, and Niemi broke a personal three-game losing skid (0-2-1). The netminder has struggled mightily as of late with a 1-4-1 record in his last six decisions.
Following a scoreless first period, Marleau opened the scoring in the first minute of play in the middle frame, one-timing a pass from Joe Thornton out of the left-wing corner and by Leafs starter James Reimer for his 24th goal of the season.
Marleau struck again midway through the second period. With Toronto defenseman Luke Schenn in the penalty box, Marleau redirected a Logan Couture point shot past Reimer for his second of the game and 25th of the season at 10:43 for a 2-0 San Jose lead.
The Maple Leafs tested Niemi in the third, outshooting the Sharks by a 16-9 count. They finally broke through early in the stanza when Phil Kessel carried the puck into the zone, curled around at the right point and hit Jake Gardiner with a pass at the left point. The defenseman's slap shot found its way through Niemi with Joffrey Lupul and Marc-Edouard Vlasic in front for his fourth goal of the season, cutting the San Jose lead to 2-1 at 3:53.
Niemi was able to hold off the Leafs the rest of the way, improving his record to 24-14-6 on the season. Reimer fell to 11-9-4.