SAN JOSE, Calif. - Even though Claude Lemieux hasn't scored in 11 games with the San Jose Sharks since his return from a 5 1/2-year retirement, the infamous NHL agitator still has other ways of providing an assist.
Patrick Marleau scored two goals and Evgeni Nabokov made 24 saves as the Sharks snapped their three-game winless streak with a 4-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night.
A lethargic game for both teams accelerated after a series of second-period scrums, and several Sharks felt an extra oomph in their stride after the 43-year-old Lemieux dropped the gloves with 21-year-old Theo Peckham.
In his 1,208th career game, Lemieux pretty much got pounded in his first scrap in about eight years, by his own count. He then got hit with a misconduct penalty for throwing another blow after the linesmen had separated him from Peckham, a 223-pound bruiser playing in just his sixth NHL contest.
Lemieux, who already had won the Stanley Cup before Peckham was born in 1987, racked up his first 15 penalty minutes of the season in that punch-up - and it got his teammates going in game they needed win in order to slow their season-worst 1-2-4 slide.
"It's not about fighting," Lemieux said. "It's about being physical and being intense. Coming home from a long road trip, teams sometimes have a tendency to play flat, but we have to work through that. Being a veteran player, you learn some things over time about how to inject some passion into the game."
Lemieux laughed when told of his gaps in age and experience with Peckham.
"He beat up an old man, so that's not much on his resume," Lemieux said.
Joe Thornton also scored and Joe Pavelski extended his goal-scoring streak to four games as the Sharks finally figured out how to beat longtime nemesis Dwayne Roloson. The Edmonton goalie who's been responsible for several of San Jose's most significant home losses over the past four seasons.
The win was uncommonly important for the stumbling Sharks, who held off Detroit atop the Western Conference standings over the past two weeks despite their slump, which included four losses on their just-completed five-game road trip. San Jose improved its league-best home record to 24-2-3 while moving three points ahead of the Red Wings with two games in hand.
Marleau tied it at two early in the second period, getting his 600th career NHL point. Marleau's tripping penalty moments later helped put the Sharks at a 5-on-3 disadvantage, but San Jose killed it off - and a turnover then set up Marleau and Mike Grier on a break.
Marleau tucked home Grier's pass for his 32nd goal of the season, just two shy of his career high from 2005-06.
"The swing with them having the lead and then us getting the lead, everyone's emotions got up," Marleau said. "We've got to be a bit more attached to the game, more involved, and we've got to get back to that for a full 60 minutes."
The clubs combined for 56 penalty minutes in the second period, including two fights and several additional scuffles that could have been rung up as major penalties. While Pavelski cited Lemieux's fight as a spark, the Oilers also got a boost from watching Peckham beat up the Sharks' pest - although it wasn't enough to beat Nabokov and the Sharks' sharp defence.
"Theo handled it fine," Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish said. "It's not a senior's league, and Theo probably doesn't know that much about Claude Lemieux. He's just playing the game. That was always Claude's forte, to be an antagonizer. That was the wrong guy for him to antagonize in that situation. Theo's a tough kid."
Zack Stortini and Erik Cole scored first-period goals for the Oilers, whose three-game winning streak was snapped in a building where they had won three straight and posted several landmark victories over the past half-decade, ever since Roloson backstopped eighth-seeded Edmonton past San Jose in the second round of the 2006 playoffs.
The veteran goalie made 48 saves in a win at the Shark Tank last March, snapping San Jose's franchise-record 11-game winning streak. He then stopped 41 shots in a 3-2 overtime win in San Jose on Dec. 6, ending the Sharks' nine-game streak.
Roloson made 27 saves for the Oilers, who beat Los Angeles and Phoenix in the first two stops of their four-game trip, which ends Thursday in Dallas. The 39-year-old goalie was solid, but he never transformed into the puck-stopping dynamo that he usually becomes when he visits the Shark Tank.
"We have a pretty healthy rivalry against these guys, coming off the playoff series we had against them," defenceman Steve Staios said. "We love playing in this building. We love the atmosphere. There's lot of emotion out there. We're disappointed, but proud of the way we played. Our work effort was great coming off a back-to-back. There were a couple of mental things that hung us up."
Edmonton hasn't won four in a row since its first four games of the season.
Notes: Edmonton had four players in its penalty box while killing 75 seconds of a two-man disadvantage in the second period. ... San Jose hasn't gone winless in four straight games since Feb. 2008. ... Sharks all-star D Dan Boyle returned after missing Sunday's game at New Jersey with the flu.