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Sharks Complete Jaw-Dropping Comeback

by Alison High / San Jose Sharks
San Jose Sharks' Patrick Marleau (12) celebrates his game-winning goal with teammate Niclas Wallin, right, during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Phoenix Coyotes Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
The Sharks just pulled off one of the most unbelievable comebacks in franchise history.

Patrick Marleau – who was honored during a pre-game ceremony for playing 1,000 games with the Sharks franchise – scored the game winning goal, short-handed, on a breakaway. Back-up goaltender Alex Stalock – whose parents just happened to fly in from Minnesota to watch him play back-up to Antti Niemi – made his NHL debut and earned his first NHL victory. Kyle Wellwood – who was picked up on waivers on Jan 18 – scored his first goal in teal while fellow newbie Ben Eager earned an assist (and his first point as a Shark) on the play.

And it all happened in the last 21 minutes of the game.

After 30 minutes of brutally mediocre hockey in which the Sharks dug themselves into a three-goal deficit, two things happened that really sparked the comeback. Number one: head coach Todd McLellan pulled Niemi and put in Stalock, a 23-year-old rookie who was recalled from Worcester that morning. Number two: with eight seconds go to in the second period, Joe Pavelski scored a power play goal and then came back out in the third and added another one less than 90 seconds later.

“It wasn’t Nemo’s fault,” said Pavelski following the game. “It was on the forwards and on the defense. I think it was a move to wake us up.”

Pavelski was stoic following the game even though his goals were instrumental in the victory. The feeling in the locker room wasn’t celebratory like after most wins. Based on the players’ responses, they were more concerned with the first 39 minutes of the game, rather than the last 21.

San Jose Sharks goalie Alex Stalock deflects a shot from the Phoenix Coyotes during the third period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
“It’s good to comeback,” Pavelski continued. “Every time shows character. Especially after getting boo’d in the second period. We take a lot of pride in playing well in this building and we haven’t done the job we need to do. We love our fans and we want to give them the best.”

In his postgame presser with the media, McLellan was not pleased.

“If we leave here patting ourselves on the bat, we’ve got huge problems,” said McLellan. “I was really disappointed in our group tonight. Very disappointed. Their lack of drive and the lack of passion to come out and play – it’s the last thing I expected. Now I do give them credit. They found a way to dig in and come back but that’s not going to happen 31 more times. So we better find a way to bring it starting tomorrow. And if we don’t, then we’ll be digging our own grave.”

McLellan’s disapproval may have also triggered the comeback.

Following the game, Wellwood said that the coach’s speech between the second and third periods had a big impact on the team.

“I think we just go out-played bad enough that we had a little bit of a reality check,” said Wellwood. “The coach had a good speech about how they were out-playing us and we shouldn’t be that bad. So we came out and really proved that we could play.”

But McLellan declined to talk about his speech.

San Jose Sharks' Marc-Edouard Vlasic, right, checks Phoenix Coyotes' Scottie Upshall into the boards during the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
“What we talk about in there should stay in there,” said McLellan. “But it really shouldn’t come from me. There are enough people in there that can step up and express themselves to get the team going. But again, I give the team credit because they responded in the third period and it was for points that were desperately needed.”

Sharks center Logan Couture participated in the morning skate, but was scratched from the lineup prior to the game. McLellan said his star rookie has the flu, but they’ll use him in Wednesday’s game against Anaheim if they can.

Marleau’s parents, Denis and Jeannette flew in from Saskatchewan to be a part of Patty’s 1,000 game ceremony. On Monday, Marleau said he was looking forward to seeing their faces during the on-ice presentation.

“It was a sense of pride and they were really proud of me,” said Marleau of his parents’ reactions. “I’m happy that I make them proud.”

The Sharks begin their seven-game road trip on Wednesday night in Anaheim when they face the Ducks at 7:00 PM. The game will be available on CSN-CA in HD, KFOX 98.5/102.1 FM and

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