(Reuters) – San Jose took a 3-0 series lead over Detroit on Tuesday but getting points from a Sharks top line that has been less than predatory in the playoffs will likely prove key to their Stanley Cup hopes.
The Sharks still exorcised some demons for a team derided as playoff underachievers with Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, who scored the winning goal in a 4-3 come-from-behind victory.
“It’s a big thing in our locker room. We believe in those players way more than the outside world does,” San Jose Coach Todd McLellan told reporters.
“You could see a very determined number 19 tonight,” he said of Thornton, adding that Marleau started slowly but played better as the game progressed.
Leading 3-1 into the third period, the Red Wings looked poised to regain momentum in the series with an opportunity to tie the series on Thursday in Detroit.
Instead, the awakening of Canada’s Olympic gold medalists Thornton and Marleau leaves the Sharks on the brink of a series sweep.
Thornton, Marleau and Dany Heatley had been held in check during the playoffs, tallying only one goal each before Tuesday, while Sharks center Joe Pavelski carried the scoring load and leads the playoffs with nine goals.
Thornton’s deflected shot cut Detroit’s lead to 3-2 before Logan Couture tied the game with less than seven minutes left to set the stage for Marleau’s overtime winner off a Thornton pass.
“We have a lot more confidence this year,” Thornton said. “They are going to be a desperate team. We have to play better than we did tonight.”
(Reporting by David Bailey; Editing by Alastair Himmer)