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Face of franchise steps up in crucial playoff spots

by Rick Sadowski /
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Patrick Marleau has been the face of the San Jose Sharks franchise since joining the team as a rookie in 1997-98.

The 31-year-old center led the Sharks with 44 goals in the regular season and is the club’s all-time leading scorer with 320 goals and 373 assists in 953 regular-season games.

Marleau scored two of the biggest playoff goals in Sharks history against the Detroit Red Wings. He netted the overtime goal in Game 3 that lifted San Jose to a 4-3 win and Saturday, in Game 5, he broke a 1-1 tie at 6:59 of the third period.

Marleau one-timed a Joe Thornton pass by Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard to give the Sharks a 2-1 victory that clinched the Western Conference Semifinal series in five games.

The Sharks have advanced to the conference finals for the first time since 2004.

Q: Your last playoff goal, you said it was the biggest one of your life. Would you like to change that now?

Marleau: They all keep getting bigger, so hopefully I can keep saying that.

Q: How did you get so open before scoring your goal?

Marleau: I’m not exactly sure. It was off a faceoff and it was kind of scrambly there for a while. Joe (Thornton) ended up with it on his stick and I kind of caught him out of the corner of my eye and he found me right away.

Q: Did you try to shoot maybe a little harder than usual?

Marleau: I got quite a bit of wood on it. I stopped quick and was able to turn around and tried to get a quick shot off.

Q: What are your feelings about advancing to the conference finals?

Marleau: It’s been a while since we’ve been there, when we played Calgary, so it’s definitely nice to get back there. It definitely feels good about the way the guys played the last two series. I think everybody’s feeling good. I don’t know how many days we’ll have to rest, but I know some guys have some bumps and bruises. We’re looking forward to the next round.

Q: Any preference as to who you play in the conference finals?

Marleau: No, it’s going to be hard no matter who we play.

Q: How were you able to bounce back so soundly from Thursday’s 7-1 loss?

Marleau: We knew the way we played wasn’t the way we should play. We knew we had to get back what’s successful for us, and we were able to do that. Good things happen when we do play that way.

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