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Marleau comes alive for Sharks

by Eric Gilmore

SAN JOSE -- After scoring one goal in his final 16 regular-season games, San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau woke up when the bright lights of the Stanley Cup Playoffs came on.

Marleau scored a goal in each of the Sharks' first two playoff games against the Vancouver Canucks, helping San Jose take a 2-0 lead as the series moves to HP Pavilion for Game 3 on Sunday night (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS).

Marleau scoring goals in the postseason should come as no shock. He has scored 54 playoff goals, a franchise record and the most by any active NHL player other than Jaromir Jagr. Marleau is tied for 40th all-time in playoff goals.

Not bad for a player who has often been criticized for not producing enough in the postseason.

"You just have to look at the stats," Sharks forward Brent Burns said. "The guy is incredible. The only knock on him is he just makes it look too easy. I wish I could do that. He's an unbelievable talent and he's one of the hardest working guys here. It's pretty incredible to see and just follow a guy like that."

Marleau has had to adjust his style as the NHL has changed. He still has a wicked shot and exceptional speed. But with teams packing the area in front of their goaltender with so many bodies, Marleau now scores most of his goals from close range in heavy traffic.

"You see a lot of goals off of scrums and loose pucks and bodies everywhere," Marleau said. "You kind of just go to the net and stick around and wait for that loose change."

In the Sharks' 3-2 overtime win Friday night at Vancouver, Marleau scored the game-tying goal with 55.1 seconds left in regulation. He tracked down a loose puck after Dan Boyle's shot was blocked in front fired it at Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo. The puck snuck past Luongo's pads and sat in the crease; Marleau crashed the net and knocked it over the goal line.

Marleau went scoreless last season when the Sharks lost their first-round series to the St. Louis Blues in five games. But the year before that, he had seven goals and 13 points in 18 playoff games. In 2010, Marleau scored eight goals and had five assists in 14 games.

Marleau has at least one point in all seven postseason games he's played against Vancouver.

"All I've seen in five years is him score big goals in the playoffs," Sharks coach Todd McLellan told reporters after Game 2 in Vancouver. "He didn't have a great playoff last year, but I only know him as the other player."

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