Niemi made 28 saves in his 30th NHL shutout, Joe Pavelski scored his second goal of the game during a two-man advantage early in the third period, and the Sharks beat the Anaheim Ducks 3-0 on Wednesday night.
"Antti was great. He is one of the best goalies in the league, we think," teammate Tommy Wingels said. "He was on. He was seeing pucks, and he had really good rebound control.
"We were pretty good about eliminating second chances and boxing guys out. When we needed a save, Niemi was there."
Frederik Andersen made 24 saves for the Ducks, who own the league's best record despite losing for the fourth time in seven games. They were shut out for the second time this season.
Corey Perry returned to the Anaheim lineup after missing 10 games because of a sprained knee. The Ducks are 16-7-1 when he is in the lineup and 8-2-5 without him. He missed five games in November with the mumps.
San Jose center Joe Thornton left with an undisclosed injury in the first period after a collision with Ducks defenseman Clayton Stoner. The six-time All-Star has played every game for the Sharks during the previous three seasons and all 38 this season.
The Sharks, 3-0-1 against the two-time defending Pacific Division champions, opened the scoring at 4:33 of the first when Marc-Edouard Vlasic's wrist shot from the left point deflected in off Pavelski's leg.
The Ducks had penalty-killers on the ice for six minutes during a 7:10 stretch late in the period. They killed Ryan Kesler's interference penalty and hooking infractions against Emerson Etem and Sami Vatanen.
"We put ourselves behind the 8-ball right away with three penalties in the first period," Perry said. "You can't play that way against a team like that. But we learn from our mistakes."
Perry took a slap shot at Niemi from inside his blue line just before the second period ended. Wingels then slammed him into the boards in front of the Ducks bench, and a scrum ensued.
"I just felt (the hit) was a little late," Perry said. "I don't think there's any need to push me into the bench like that, so I guess I took matters into my own hands."
Perry and Kesler ended up with roughing penalties, in addition to Wingels' interference infraction. Anaheim captain Ryan Getzlaf threw his stick against the glass behind the empty bench as he went to the dressing room, and was assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty — resulting in a 5-on-3 power play for San Jose to start the third.
"At that moment, I thought the referees were off the ice and I was taking out my own frustration," Getzlaf said. "But I'm an adult, and I shouldn't have done it at that point. It's unacceptable. I accept responsibility for my stupidity.
"It was my fault, and that won't happen again."
Pavelski scored with 1 second left on the ensuing power play, beating Andersen to the blocker side with a one-timer from the left circle after the goalie lost his stick.
"It was a huge momentum change," Andersen said. "We were so close to killing it off. But that's not why we lost the game. We lost it by taking terrible penalties."
Logan Couture added an empty-net goal with 2:05 left.
"When you take nine (minor) penalties, you're not going to win hockey games," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Three or four of those were just not smart penalties. We've got to stay disciplined and stay focused."
Sharks left wing John Scott served the third game of a four-game suspension he received because of a punch to the face of Ducks forward Tim Jackman on Dec. 22.
NOTES: The Ducks are 5-8 with a tie on New Year's Eve, including a 6-3 home victory last year against the Sharks. ... The Sharks have played nine times on New Year's Eve — all on the road — and are 7-1-1. ... The Ducks finished 2014 with a league-best 107 standings points. ... Each team had a goal disallowed because of a player making contact with the goalie. ... Jackman fought Micheal Haley at 3:02 of the first period. ... The Ducks are 0 for 21 on the power play since Jakob Silfverberg's goal on Dec .13 at Winnipeg. ... San Jose is 6 for 20 on the power play in its last four games against Anaheim. ... Sharks forward Patrick Marleau has three goals in his last 33 games. Thornton has two goals in 18.