DETROIT – The San Jose Sharks finally beat the Detroit Red Wings.
Patrick Marleau scored the lone goal in a shootout to give San Jose a 3-2 victory over Detroit on Thursday night. Evgeni Nabokov made a career-high 50 saves, and Joe Thornton and Dwight Helminen scored in regulation for the Sharks. It was Western Conference-leading San Jose’s first win over Detroit this after three losses this season.
With the Red Wings battling to make the playoffs, it’s possible the two teams could meet in the first round of the playoffs with the Sharks as the No. 1 seed and the Red Wings No. 8.
But Nabokov said any win is important.
“We got two points, that’s what counts,” he said. “Two points is two points. I don’t care who they’re against.”
Marleau ended it in the third round of the shootout, beating Jimmy Howard.
“I came in and just waited for him to make a move,” Marleau said. “He tried for the poke check and I was able to get around him.”
Johan Franzen and Jason Williams scored for Detroit, and Howard made 24 saves. It was the Red Wings’ second consecutive shootout loss and they are 4-8 in games decided by shootout for the season.
“We did battle back and get one point out of it,” Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. “But I think we had some quality chances to win the game, too. Their goalie was the difference. He made some great saves.”
Detroit forward Tomas Holmstrom returned after missing a game because of a sore left knee and got an assist. Holmstrom is a member of the defending champion Swedish Olympic team. If he has a setback, he could be replaced by Franzen.
Williams tied it at 2, with 7:05 left. He beat Nabokov with a wrist shot from the right faceoff dot. It wasn’t originally called a goal. But after play was halted 12 seconds later, video review showed the puck went in and out under the crossbar. It was Williams’ fourth goal.
Franzen opened the scoring with 7:47 left in the first period with a power-play goal. His shot from the top of the right circle went in off of Nabokov’s glove. It was Franzen’s second game after missing four months because of left knee surgery. The goal was his second of the season and first since his return.
“I think we played good. We played with a lot of speed,” Franzen said. “It looked like last year, not like the past two months here.”
But it took Thornton only 25 seconds to tie it when he put the rebound of Niclas Wallin’s shot, off the backboards, into the empty net behind Howard. It was Thornton’s 16th goal.
“To have Jumbo’s (Thornton’s) line come right back and respond was big,” San Jose coach Todd McLellan said. “It got everybody up on the bench.”
Helminen made it 2-1 with just 10 seconds left in the opening period as he scored on a one-time shot from the slot. It was the first goal for the native of Hancock, who grew up in Brighton – about 40 miles west of Detroit – and played at the University of Michigan.
“That’s one I’ll remember for sure,” Helminen said about his second career goal. “I had a lot of family at the game.”
Detroit outshot San Jose 19-9 in the first period.
NOTES: Detroit D Niklas Kronwall missed his fourth game with a sore left knee. He had previously played in five games after missing two months because of a left knee injury. Kronwall, selected to Team Sweden for the Olympics, said that if he doesn’t play Saturday against Ottawa – the Red Wings’ last game before the Olympic break – it would be questionable if he could play in Vancouver. … San Jose C Manny Malhotra missed his fourth game with a lower-body injury and Sharks’ D Marc-Edouard Vlasic missed his sixth because of a lower-body injury. … Red Wings RW Patrick Eaves missed his second game with a sprained left ankle. … San Jose RW Jed Ortmeyer, who also played at Michigan, returned after missing a game with an upper-body injury. … The 50 shots were the Detroit this season and the most given up by San Jose in 2009-10.