SAN JOSE, Calif. - Don't count out the San Jose Sharks just yet, not while their captain still has his clutch scoring touch.
Patrick Marleau got his second game-winning goal of the playoffs 6:02 into overtime, and the top-seeded Sharks avoided first-round elimination with a 3-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks in Game 5 on Saturday night.
Evgeni Nabokov made 23 saves for the Sharks, who blew a two-goal lead early in the third period at the Shark Tank. San Jose stayed alive with a goal from its reconstituted top line when Joe Thornton circled the net and slipped the puck in front, where Devin Setoguchi and Marleau both hacked at it.
The puck landed behind Anaheim goalie Jonas Hiller, who accidentally nudged it over the goal-line. Video review confirmed the officials' call while the Sharks already were in their dressing room, preparing to move on to Game 6 on Monday night.
If the Sharks win again in Anaheim, the series will be decided in San Jose on Wednesday night.
After San Jose's stars floundered in the first four games, they excelled in the first elimination game. Thornton and Setoguchi scored their first goals of the series while San Jose largely dominated the first two periods, but Ryan Carter and Corey Perry scored in the first 4:42 of the third to even it for Anaheim.
Hiller stopped 44 shots in another busy night of work, but the Ducks failed to capitalize on numerous late scoring opportunities, forcing them to attempt another clincher at home.
For at least two more days, San Jose avoided becoming the eighth No. 1 seed since 1994 to lose in the first round. San Jose still could be the third Presidents' Trophy winner to flop in the first round since 2004, but the Sharks weren't ready to hang it up at the Tank, where they were the NHL's best home team in the regular season.
The Sharks have outshot the Ducks in every game of the series, but it hasn't counted for much. San Jose had a 47-25 advantage in Game 5, but Nabokov was forced to make just as many big saves as Hiller.
After losing the series' first two games at the Shark Tank last week, San Jose returned from splitting a pair in Anaheim with more excitement than desperation. The Sharks forechecked, blocked shots and created offence with an intensity they've only rarely showed against the Ducks - and Nabokov, second in the NHL with 41 regular-season victories, finally was sharp after struggling earlier in the series.
Although coach Todd McLellan had hinted at a shakeup, San Jose opened Game 5 with Thornton, Marleau and Setoguchi, reuniting the three players who comprised their top line for most of the season. The trio had been mostly broken up for the past few weeks, but the changes hadn't been a visible benefit to anybody.
Thornton and Marleau - who has 10 game-winning goals in the playoffs - teamed up for a goal on a power play just 7 1/2 minutes in. Marleau rattled a shot off Hiller's mask, and Thornton tucked home the rebound for his first goal in 11 playoff games since the Sharks' first-round series clincher against Calgary last season.
San Jose dominated the second period with a 17-7 shots advantage, and Setoguchi finally capitalized when he circled out from behind the net and slipped the puck through the sliver of space between Hiller's outstretched pad and the ice.
Carter, who didn't join the Ducks' lineup until Game 4, halved the Sharks' lead 55 seconds into the third, taking a pass from Andrew Ebbett and pounding it past Nabokov. Perry evened it with a fast-break goal on a pass from Scott Niedermayer after a sustained attack by San Jose, sending the Shark Tank into fearful silence.
The Sharks had several chances alone in front of Hiller's net in the third, but they all missed - including Thornton's shot with just under seven minutes left, which ricocheted off Hiller's pads and glanced off the post. San Jose outshot Anaheim 41-22 in regulation.
Notes: Ducks RW Bobby Ryan, who had four goals in the first four games, left the ice with 12:59 left in regulation. Anaheim didn't immediately announce whether the rookie star was injured, but he returned to the bench with 2:21 left. ... Neither team made any changes from their Game 4 lineups in Anaheim.