DETROIT – The San Jose Sharks might have exorcised demons in a fitting place.
Patrick Marleau scored 7:07 into overtime, lifting San Jose to a 4-3 comeback win over the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night and a 3-0 lead in the second-round series.
“It does feel good to win in this building,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. “We’ve had a tough time here, but the next one will be difficult.”
The Sharks had won three of nine playoff games in Detroit, losing the last two in the 2007 Western Conference semifinals, and just five of 35 matchups during the regular season in their history.
San Jose is quickly making its past moot and Joe Thornton is leading the way.
Thornton’s assist set up Marleau’s winning score and his second goal in two games sparked a comeback from a 3-1 deficit in the third period.
The sweet-passing centre has been called “No Show Joe” by some for not producing in the playoffs.
“I don’t know how this evolved, but you saw a very determined 19,” McLellan said, referring to Thornton by his jersey number.
Thornton, meanwhile, shrugged off what he had done.
“Business as usual,” he said.
Thornton scored on a wraparound goal?sending the puck off Pavel Datsyuk’s stick and into his own net?and made a perfect play on the odd-man rush to allow Marleau to score easily into an open net.
“He’s a world-class passer,” McLellan said. “He even fooled me. I thought he was going to shoot.”
San Jose has been dogged for failing to get to the Western Conference finals since its longest run in 2004, but an impressive rally from a 3-1 deficit with 13 minutes left in regulation could prove to be pivotal for the franchise.
“I don’t think we were out to convince anybody. We knew we were a different team,” McLellan said. “I guess what we have to do is prove that to the hockey world.”
Game 4 is Thursday night in Detroit, where the Red Wings will try to stay alive.
“The reality is, we’ve dug a huge hole for ourselves,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “There’s no sense worrying about anything but the next game.”
The Red Wings looked as though they had put themselves in a great position to win Game 3 – leading 2-0 in the first and 3-1 in the third – but they blew chances to pad the lead early, and goalie Jimmy Howard let them down late.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow,” Babcock said.
The two-time defending Western Conference champions haven’t been swept since 2003, in the first round by Anaheim, but they are determined to put up a fight.
“It feels bad, but it’s still not over,” said Howard, who made 29 saves. “You still can’t stop believing.”
Thornton started San Jose’s comeback by scoring 6:42 into the third. Logan Couture tied it with 6:43 left, flicking a shot toward Howard from the right corner. Howard didn’t press his body firmly against the post, and that allowed the tying goal to go off him and into the net.
“The coaches have been telling us to throw it at his feet all series,” Couture said. “I waited for him to open up his pads.”
After the puck went in, Howard titled his head back and looked to the rafter-filled banners in disbelief.
“It’s a tough one,” Babcock said. “But the goalie picks you up a lot, too.”
Evgeni Nabokov did that quite a bit for the Sharks, stopping 32 shots and none were bigger than grabbing Henrik Zetterberg’s backhand on a penalty shot in the first period.
“That was a big wake-up call for us,” McLellan said.
If the Red Wings don’t win Game 4, they can sleep all they want.
Detroit’s Tomas Holmstrom and Dan Cleary scored in the first for a 2-0 lead and San Jose pulled within a goal when Devin Setoguchi scored with 4 seconds left in the period.
Zetterberg restored Detroit’s two-goal lead early in the second.
The Red Wings would’ve had a bigger lead in the third period if notfor a disallowed goal in the first.
Zetterberg had a goal negated by video review because the puck went in off his left skate in what was ruled to be a distinct kicking motion.
“I wasn’t kicking,” he insisted.
Zetterberg was also stopped by Nabokov on a penalty shot – awarded in the first when Couture made a rookie mistake of covering the puck in the crease with his glove.
“We had a chance to win this game, for sure,” Babcock said. “We had lots of opportunities and it got away from us.”
NOTES: Detroit did have a review go its way in the first period when the puck went off Holmstrom’s right skate and the on-ice ruling of a goal stood. … San Jose’s Joe Pavelski, the first player since Mario Lemieux in 1992 to score more than once in three straight playoff games, had his five-game goal streak snapped.