DETROIT - History wasn't on their side, but a never-say-die attitude was as the San Jose Sharks seized a comeback 4-3 overtime victory and a 3-0 series lead over the Detroit Red Wings last night at Joe Louis Arena.
Down 3-1 after two periods, the Sharks battled back with goals from Joe Thornton and Logan Couture and then ended it on Patrick Marleau's one-timer on a two-on-one break with Thornton at the 7:07 mark in overtime.
Thornton tallied just the 14th playoff goal of his career at 6:42 in the third, but he was in his element on a breakout with Marleau in the extra session.
"He's a world-class passer," San Jose coach Todd McLellan said of Thornton. "He even fooled me, because I thought he was going to shoot there. But he sent it over to [Marleau], and he did a great job converting on the chance."
San Jose has made a habit of rallying from early deficits so far in this series, but McLellan said the Sharks can't count on Detroit fading anymore with its back now against the wall.
"We kept pushing and pushing," McLellan said. "To come back three times in a row, I don't think we can count on that a fourth time. We have to start better."
Knowing this was a must-win game, the Wings started strong and put several pucks on net in the early going.
Finally with 10:13 remaining in the first, Detroit forward Valtteri Filppula sent a cross-ice pass from the right circle to a streaking Henrik Zetterberg, who promptly directed the puck into the net.
However, after a lengthy review, the replay official deemed that Zetterberg directed the puck past San Jose goaltender Evgeni Nabokov with his skate, not his stick, and the goal was taken off the board.
The replay official was called in again moments later, and this time the Wings' goal stood.
With 6:27 left in the period, Johan Franzen flipped a backhander from the left circle on goal, and Tomas Holmstrom stuffed the puck home for a 1-0 lead.
"That's why you have the guys in the booth," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "You're just hoping it's a goal."
The Wings continued to build momentum when Dan Cleary put them ahead 2-0 with 1:23 left in the first on a shot from the left circle that beat Nabokov top-shelf.
The energy in the arena gained on Cleary's goal quickly escaped seconds later, though, when Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard allowed Devin Setoguchi's spinning shot from the right circle to sneak under his left pad with 1.8 seconds to go in the first.
Howard again had a mental lapse on Couture's game-tying goal in the third, when the San Jose forward fired the puck from a sharp angle along the side boards and it shot off Howard's leg into the net.
"Some nights you have to pick him up," Babcock said. "This was one of those nights and we didn't do it for him,"
Despite winning just 30 of their last 35 matchups with San Jose at The Joe entering last night's contest and possessing that early advantage, the Red Wings still faded down the stretch and are facing long odds of coming back in this series.
"Certainly they're disappointed," Babcock said. "We had a chance to win this one tonight."
McLellan and the Sharks aren't ready to set the cruise control, however.
"I've been in that other locker room, and I know how tough this task still is," McLellan said. "This isn't over. We still have a long way to go and a lot of work to do yet."
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History wasn't on their side, but a never-say-die attitude was as the San Jose Sharks seized a comeback 4-3 overtime victory and a 3-0 series lead over the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night at Joe Louis Arena.