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He's back: Claude Lemieux returns in Sharks win

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Claude Lemieux was still wound up. Nearly two dozen years after he first played in the NHL, a close hard-fought game still has that effect on him.

The 43-year-old Lemieux skated for San Jose in his return after 5 1/2 years in retirement, grinding on the fourth line while the Sharks went on to beat Vancouver 2-1 in overtime Tuesday night.

"It's hard to describe what's going through my mind all night, but I was really hoping for a win, because this team hasn't lost many," said Lemieux, who played 12 shifts on the fourth line. "It was just an amazing game, an amazing experience. I'm actually not so excited that we have to wait six days for the next game."

In other NHL games Tuesday night, it was: Carolina 2, Pittsburgh 1; Atlanta 4, Montreal 2; Phoenix 6, Detroit 3; the New York Rangers 4, Anaheim 2; Ottawa 3, Washington 2; Los Angeles 5, Minnesota 2; and Edmonton 4, Columbus 3.

In San Jose, Calif., Patrick Marleau scored in overtime, Devin Setoguchi got the tying goal and Joe Thornton had two assists for the Sharks, who will head into the All-Star break with at least a share of the league's top record.

Evgeni Nabokov made 13 saves for San Jose, which will enter the All-Star break with 73 points.

Taylor Pyatt scored in the first period for Vancouver.

Lemieux retired after the 2003 playoffs with Dallas before starting a comeback with the Sharks' minor-league affiliate nearly two months ago. He expected to be nearly as nervous as he was before his NHL debut with the Montreal Canadiens nearly 24 years ago.

"Claude did a really good job," coach Todd McLellan said. "He finished his checks. He wasn't a liability on the ice at all. He skated well, which was something we were looking for. I think he's got to feel good about himself after one game."

At Pittsburgh, Cam Ward made 32 saves and Ray Whitney and Eric Staal scored for Carolina.

Ward, making his 13th consecutive start, earned his 100th career victory for the Hurricanes, who won on consecutive nights after snapping a five-game losing streak.

League scoring leader Evgeni Malkin had a goal for Pittsburgh, the reigning Eastern Conference champion which fell into 10th place in the conference heading into the All-Star break.

Ward stopped Malkin from point-blank range with 24.1 seconds to play.

At Atlanta, rookie defenseman Zach Bogosian and Chris Thorburn each had a goal and an assist for the Thrashers.

Tied for the second-fewest points in the NHL with 37 coming in, Atlanta won its third straight to snap Montreal's two-game winning streak and spoil the return of goaltender Carey Price.

The Canadiens, who had won eight of 10 and were 11-2-1 in their previous 14, started with Jaroslav Valak in goal, but coach Guy Carbonneau pulled him after Rich Peverley scored 3:58 into the second to make it 3-0.

At Glendale, Ariz., Enver Lisin scored a pair of third-period goals for Phoenix.

Derek Morris had a goal and an assist, and Keith Yandle, Ed Jovanovski and Olli Jokinen also scored for the Coyotes, who won for the fifth time in seven games.

Shane Doan had a pair of assists as Phoenix moved past Anaheim into sole possession of fifth place in the Western Conference entering the All-Star break.

Niklas Lidstrom had a pair of power-play goals and Mikael Samuelsson also scored on the power play for the Red Wings, who lost consecutive games in regulation for the first time this season.

At New York, Markus Naslund scored on a power play and set up Scott Gomez's go-ahead goal with the man-advantage in the third period for the Rangers.

The Rangers, playing their first home game following a 3-1-1 trip, hopped back over the New Jersey Devils into first place in the Atlantic Division. New York is now off for a week for the NHL All-Star break.

Gomez also had an assist, Fredrik Sjostrom added a short-handed goal in the second period, and Henrik Lundqvist made 32 saves for his 24th win.

At Ottawa, Brendan Bell scored Ottawa's third power-play goal of the game with 1:22 remaining.

Bell put a shot from the right side past Jose Theodore with five seconds remaining on a penalty to Washington's Alexander Semin.

Dany Heatley scored a pair of power-play goals in the first for the Senators.

At St. Paul, Minn., Kyle Calder had a goal and an assist to help Los Angeles end a four-game losing streak.

Derek Armstrong also had a goal and Patrick O'Sullivan added an empty-netter for the Kings, who got 25 saves from Jonathan Quick.

Owen Nolan and Marek Zidlicky scored for Minnesota.

At Edmonton, Alberta, Ales Hemsky scored his second goal with 34.9 seconds left to play for Edmonton.

Hemsky added two assists, and Lubomir Visnovsky and Denis Grebeshkov also scored for the Oilers, who have won five of their last six to move back into playoff position in the Western Conference.

Jared Boll, Marc Methot and Jason Williams scored for the Blue Jackets, who have lost two of their last three.

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