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Sharks 4, Oilers 2

NHL.com @NHL

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -Claude Lemieux already had a Stanley Cup ring before Theo Peckham was born, yet the 43-year-old agitator didn't hesitate to drop the gloves with Edmonton's 21-year-old bruiser.

Sure, Lemieux lost the fight. His San Jose Sharks still won the game, thanks in part to the spark provided by Lemieux's punishment.

Captain Patrick Marleau scored two goals, Joe Thornton added another and the Sharks slowed their first slide of the season, beating the Oilers 4-2 Tuesday night.

In his 1,208th career game, Lemieux got his first penalty minutes in teal with 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 his sixth NHL contest.

There was a method to Lemieux's malfeasance. He sensed too much passive play from his teammates, who returned home after losing four times on a five-game road trip.

"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."

Evgeni Nabokov made 24 saves for San Jose - and more importantly, he outplayed Dwayne Roloson, the 39-year-old goalie who inexplicably has been one of the Sharks' toughest opponents in recent years, ever since he led the eighth-seeded Oilers past San Jose in the second round of the 2006 playoffs.

Marleau beat Roloson twice in less than four minutes during the second period, including a short-handed goal on a superb pass from Mike Grier. Marleau's tying and go-ahead goals - along with Lemieux's willingness to take a punch - sparked San Jose out of the lethargy that threatened to unseat the Sharks atop the Western Conference.

"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."

Joe Pavelski extended his goal-scoring streak to four games in an uncommonly important win for the Sharks, who held off Detroit atop the Western Conference standings over the past two weeks despite their slump. 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.

At Sunrise, Fla., Tomas Vokoun stopped 36 shots for his fifth shutout of the season, and Florida snapped New Jersey's seven-game road winning streak.

The shutout was the eighth of the season for the Panthers, tying Columbus for most in the league.

Stephen Weiss, Richard Zednik, Nathan Horton and Cory Stillman scored for the Panthers, who improved to 13-4-3 since Jan. 1 and moved into sixth place in the Eastern Conference.

Scott Clemmensen made 24 saves for New Jersey.

At Calgary, Alberta, Ryan Kesler scored twice and Pavol Demitra had the shootout winner for Vancouver.

With goalie Roberto Luongo pulled for an extra attacker, Kevin Bieksa scored the game-tying goal on a shot through a crowd with 51 seconds remaining in the third period.

Calgary had taken a 3-2 lead at 6:52 of the third on Rene Bourque's 20th goal of the season.

Miikka Kiprusoff had 40 saves for Calgary and Luongo had 38 for the Canucks.

At Tampa, Fla., Jonathan Toews scored twice, Patrick Kane had a goal and two assists, and Chicago withstood the first career hat trick by Steven Stamkos.

The Lightning let a 3-1 lead slip away to the Blackhawks, who improved to 17-11-3 on the road.

Dave Bolland scored the go-ahead goal with 7:14 left in the third period, and Toews added his second goal of the game with four minutes left to make it 5-3.

Stamkos, the No. 1 overall draft pick last season, has nine goals this season.

At Raleigh, N.C., David Krejci had a short-handed goal and an assist, and the Bruins snapped a season-worst four-game losing streak.

Shane Hnidy scored the go-ahead goal in the second period, Patrice Bergeron had an empty-net goal and an assist and Chuck Kobasew and Blake Wheeler also scored for Boston.

The NHL's best team became the first to reach 40 wins by continuing its dominance of the Southeast Division, rallying from an early deficit and surging with three goals in the final 3:48 to clinch its first sweep of the franchise that once was its New England-based rival.

Matt Cullen scored for the Hurricanes.

At Denver, Wojtek Wolski scored off his own rebound 80 seconds into overtime to lift Colorado.

Ian Laperriere and Ryan Smyth also scored for the last-place Avalanche, winners of two in a row.

Ryan Shannon scored twice for the Senators, who snapped a five-game win streak in the finale of a 4-1 road trip.

Andrew Raycroft stopped 20 shots for Colorado.

At Toronto, Drew Stafford scored twice and Buffalo moved into a tie for fifth in the Eastern Conference.

Daniel Paille and Matt Ellis also scored for the Sabres, and Ryan Miller made 27 saves.

Pavel Kubina scored for the Maple Leafs.

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