SAN JOSE, Calif. – The Sharks had already blown their two-goal lead in the third period Sunday night, but the final dagger was about to come – thanks in large part to Detroit center Pavel Datsyuk.
Datsyuk was reportedly a game-time decision because of a sore wrist, but one could have fooled the Sharks, particularly forward Patrick Marleau.
Marleau was battling Datsyuk for a loose puck along the boards and was desperately trying to get it out of San Jose's zone late in the third with the score tied 3-3.
"I had it in my feet and got it up to my stick and tried to get it out," Marleau said after the Sharks' 4-3 loss in Game 5 at HP Pavilion. "He was able to get it from me and I tried getting it back. He lost it for a second, and I got it. He got it back. They got the shot off from the point. I didn't see it after that."
After stealing the puck from Marleau, Datsyuk passed it to Nicklas Lidstrom, who blasted a shot from the high slot. Tomas Holmstrom, planted in front of the net, redirected that bullet past Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi, putting the Red Wings ahead 4-3 with just 6:08 left to play.
"First of all, we were caught out tired," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "We had opportunities along the boards, and the puck was on our tape. He is without a doubt the best in the world at picking pockets, lifting sticks. And he not only did it once, he did it twice.
"Fatigue sometimes causes us to err, and that was that situation. We were tired, we were worn out, they got a change ahead of us, and they made us pay for it."
Marleau gave credit where it was due.
"He hounds pucks relentlessly all the time," Marleau said of Datsyuk. "We've been doing a good job at it, too. It's one of those things, those areas you need a little extra help and get it out."
Datsyuk had three assists in the game. Marleau, meanwhile, came up empty and has yet to net his first point of the series. He'll get another chance Tuesday at Detroit in Game 6.
Just the feel for the direction they were headed and what they're trying to do, it just felt that this is a really good thing for this organization. They've got the pieces. We can put something together and go on a run or two and be together for a while, and I'm really excited about that opportunity. The team we have here has an opportunity to win, and that's the most attractive thing.
— Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen on why he decided to sign with the Capitals