They have been preaching “overcome” since the playoffs began and the Sharks served up the biggest example of that to date this year in their 4-3 overtime victory against Detroit in Game 3. The win gives the Sharks a commanding 3-0 series lead.
San Jose faced bad bounce after bad bounce against the Avalanche, but against Detroit, the Sharks have twice overcome third period deficits, including a two two-goal deficits and a goal off a defenseman’s skate in Game 3 at Joe Louis Arena. This might be the most resilient Sharks team ever.
“We’ve been able to do it throughout the regular season and a few times here in the playoffs,” said Patrick Marleau
who provided the game-winner.
“You can never get too high or too low, people are probably getting sick of me saying it,” said Devin Setoguchi opened the Sharks scoring. “If you believe you can win, a lot of times good things happen.”
The Wings are smart, defensive minded club, but San Jose stayed patient and refused to say “wait for game 4.”
“At the end of the second, we still felt confident,” said Joe Thornton
, who set up the game winner. “We’re a confident group and we feel like we can come back. If we’re down in the third, we come out and play hard. We stuck with it.”
“We have a lot of confidence, no matter what the score is,” said Marleau. “If we stick to our plan and execute what we need to do, there is a good chance we can come back.”
It was fitting that the Sharks longtime scoring duo of Thornton and Marleau came through on the dramatic overtime winner. For the final tally it was the game’s premier passer setting up the club’s all-time leading scorer.
“When you see Patty Marleau, that is an easy decision to make,” said Thornton. “I made a pass to him and it was a great play by Patty.”
The sequence began in the Detroit zone when a shot came around the boards.
“They missed the net and it was transition hockey,” said Thornton. “I put a lot of steam on that pass and there are probably only a couple of guys in this lockerroom who could handle it. It was a great play by Patty.”
“It was coming back in our end and the shot came around the boards pretty hard,” said Marleau. “Joe had it and it was a two-on-one. Joe used me as a backboard to put it in the empty net. We just jumped off the bench onto the ice.”
Thornton did his part to force overtime by scoring off a play in the third where he came around from behind the net and pulled San Jose within one.
“I took it to the net and shot it, it was a seeing-eye shot,” said Thornton.Logan Couture
then provided the tying goal by looking off Howard and finding the five-hole from a difficult angle.
“Everybody in the rink thought he was going to pass it, except Logan,” said McLellan.
Then it was a matter of finishing off the comeback.
“The quote-unquote from the second period was keep doing what we’ve been doing the whole playoffs,” said Setoguchi. “Stick to our game plan and put in the work. We did want to get more shots on net. The goalie only saw 15 or 17 shots through two periods. Just throw pucks from every angle.”
The Sharks had a two-goal deficit near the end of the first period, however, with seconds remaining in the stanza, Joe Pavelski
set up Setoguchi and Setoguchi’s shot found the back of the net. The duo had several great chances on the evening and once again played a big role in the victory.
“A great play by Pavs,” said Thornton. “We have so much confidence in Pav’s line. They are showing up each and every night and now with our line going (we are playing well).”
“It’s either going in (the lockerroom) 2-0 or 2-1 with a little momentum,” said Setoguchi. “We got a good goal at the end of the period. We (the line) had a lot of chances. It was just a matter of hitting the net and putting them in. We had two really prime chances near the end of the second. It was just an inch off from being in the net.”
That goal may not have mattered had Evgeni Nabokov not come up with a highlight caliber save on a penalty shot awarded to Henrik Zetterberg. The play came about when it was ruled that Logan Couture
had put his hand over the puck in the crease. The replay showed otherwise, but that is not reviewable and Nabokov was forced into a one-on-one showdown with a dangerous sniper.
Nabokov played the move and snagged with puck with his glove as it appeared headed across the line. The Olympic netminder was sliding backwards and had to keep his glove and the puck from sliding into the goal.
“He’s been holding us in throughout the playoffs and tonight on the penalty shot and throughout the game by making key saves,” said Marleau.
“The biggest part of that first period that kept us in the game was Nabokov,” said Setoguchi. “He played a great game. It could easily been 4-0 with the penalty shot and their power play. He did a good job of keeping us focused by making good saves. Give our goalie a lot of credit.”
GOING FOR FOUR
No matter what the 3-0 series lead says, every game with Detroit has been close and tomorrow the Sharks will begin focusing on the most difficult game.
“Tomorrow will be that day where we remind them how difficult that last game is,” said McLellan. “I’ve been in that other lockerroom and I know how much fight is in that team. It’s going to be tougher for the fourth one than it has for the first three. They have to win the next one. That is when it becomes a must win. We know that next one is going to be difficult.”
The overtime winner was the second overtime delivery of Marleau’s NHL career.
Kent Huskins celebrated his 31st birthday with the Game 3 victory.
Game 4 will be Thursday at 4:30 Pacific time and it will be on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.