Zdeno Chara's big shot turned Tim Thomas' goaltending heroics into two points for the Boston Bruins.
Chara blasted a slap shot past Evgeni Nabokov for the lone goal of the shootout and Thomas made 41 saves through 65 minutes and four more in the breakaway competition as the Bruins beat the San Jose Sharks 2-1 on Thursday night.
Thomas and Nabokov each stopped the first three shooters in the shootout before Chara -- winner of the hardest shot competition at last year's All-Star Game -- skated in, got between the hash marks and blasted a slap shot past Nabokov.
"When you go for a shootout, you have to do what you do best," Chara said. "I decided to pick a side and fired."
Thomas then stopped a backhander by Patrick Marleau, the NHL's leader with 31 goals, to end the game -- and the Bruins' three-game losing streak.
"It crossed my mind that Marleau had a lot of good chances in the game and I was able to stop him, but a good player like that he's liable to break out at any time," Thomas said. "At the same time I was thinking we had come too far and put in too much work not to get rewarded, and it was left up to me."
The Bruins got to the shootout because of Thomas, who robbed Marleau and Dany Heatley among his 12 third-period saves. He also got some help from ex-Shark Marco Sturm, who got his stick on a shot by Ryane Clowe with 1:15 remaining and Thomas out of position.
"This is an important time for us," Thomas said after winning for the fourth time in his last five road games. "We're down in manpower and when you put in the amount of work we did tonight, to get rewarded with two points is nice. Whether it will help us at the end of the season, we'll find out."
The Bruins played without centers Patrice Bergeron and Marc Savard for the third straight game.
"It was a huge statement game for us, especially with so many challenges facing us," Chara said. "Our top centers are missing and we had to sacrifice everything for the team. It was small parts that led to a big difference."
Nabokov finished with 30 saves, including several point-blank stops.
"Just a real good display of goaltending," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said.
Boston got on the board 2:50 into the second when Scott Thornton picked off a pass at the Sharks' blue line and found Daniel Paille alone in front. Paille took a wrist shot that Nabokov stopped, but the puck glanced off the skate of San Jose defenseman Dan Boyle and slid into the net.
Boyle figured into the tying goal at 9:56, taking the shot that led to former Bruin Joe Thornton picking a rebound out of the air and muscling it into the net.
"We got a bad bounce -- what are you going to do," Boyle said of Boston's goal. "We got it back. But one goal isn't going to be enough to win on most nights."
After two periods of penalty-free hockey, both teams got two power plays in the third. The best chance for either team came on the last one, when Thornton made a perfect backdoor pass to Heatley as he raced through the left circle -- only to have Thomas slide across and stop the shot.
Marleau had the best chance in the overtime, but Thomas stopped his rocket from near the left faceoff dot with 45 seconds left.
"We had some pretty good looks tonight," Thornton said. "I thought Tim Thomas played well -- he made the stops when they needed them. I thought both goalies saved each team at some point in the game."
Material from team media was used in this report