DETROIT - The San Jose Sharks still have a slight edge over the Detroit Red Wings.
Joe Thornton scored twice and Antti Niemi made 30 saves in San Jose's 4-2 win over Detroit on Friday night.
San Jose has eliminated Detroit in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs the past two seasons. It was a seven-game set last spring in which the Red Wings rallied from a 3-0 series deficit to force a decisive Game 7. Six of the seven games in that were decided by one goal and only Thornton's empty-netter in the final minute prevented Friday's contest from being another one-goal affair.
"Every game against them seems to be a one-goal game," Thornton said. "These are two good, competitive teams, and it's become a pretty good rivalry the last couple of years."
Patrick Marleau had a goal and an assist and Ryane Clowe also scored for San Jose, which won its fourth straight.
"It's always a great game when these two teams come together," Marleau said. "They've been a very good organization, an elite team, for a long time, so you know you'd better come prepared to play. Getting a win against them does feel good, because you know it's always an elite game."
Henrik Zetterberg, and Tomas Holmstrom scored for Detroit, which has lost three in a row Nicklas Lidstrom had two assists and Jimmy Howard made 26 saves.
"It was a good game. Sometimes you can fool yourself in these games though. The opposition gets you prepared for these games. You don't have to get yourself prepared," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "But being a pro is getting prepared every night so you have energy to play every night. So that's a challenge for us tomorrow (at Minnesota)."
Thornton's breakaway goal with 1:42 left in the second period snapped a 2-2 tie. The San Jose star beat Howard between the pads for his second goal after taking a pass from Joe Pavelski.
"They really started to pinch a lot as a team and we were fortunate enough to get the puck in behind them and away we went," San Jose coach Todd McLellan said. "It was nice to see Jumbo shoot it, he had nobody to pass to. But he did look behind him. He worried me."
Marleau gave San Jose a 2-1 lead 7:57 into the second when he chipped a shot over Howard's shoulder from the slot after beating former Sharks defenceman Ian White to a loose puck, which actually deflected off White's sick.
"I was right in front of him, the puck was right there, I took a swipe at it, it bounced over my stick," White said. "I tried to get a stick on the shot and I tipped it right upstairs."
White also got caught up ice on Thornton's goal.
Holmtrom's power-play goal with 5:16 left in the second period tied the score at 2. Pavel Datsyuk's shot from about 15-feet inside the blue line deflected in off Holmstrom for his first goal.
Zetterberg opened the scoring with 7:40 left in the first period. He put in the carom of Lidstrom's intentionally-wide shot, off the boards behind the net, from the bottom of the right circle. It was Zetterberg's second goal.
An apparent goal by Detroit was waved off with 1:28 remaining in the opening when referee Brian Pochmara ruled incidental contact with Niemi by Tomas Holmstrom. No penalty was a called.
"Yeah, I didn't like the call, but that doesn't matter if I like it or not," Babcock said.
Clowe tied the score at 1 with a power-play goal 2:10 into middle period. His third goal came from the bottom of the left circle after a set up by Martin Havlat.
Detroit defenceman Brad Stuart made a save with his upper chest in the crease on Clowe's shot at an empty Detroit net during a San Jose power play a little less than five minutes into the game.
NOTES: White signed with Detroit as a free agent during the off-season. ... McLellan is a former Red Wings assistant under Babcock. ... There was a video tribute to Lidstrom in the first period honouring the Red Wings' captain for reaching the 1,500-game plateau last Saturday in Washington. ... Clowe's goal was the Sharks' first road power-play goal this season on their 14th attempt.