Sharks battle past Wings

Sharks teammates celebrate after forward Patrick Marleau scores against the Red Wings during Game 7...

Sharks teammates celebrate after forward Patrick Marleau scores against the Red Wings during Game 7 of their NHL Western Conference semifinal series in San Jose, Calif., May 12, 2011. (CHAD ZIEMENDORF/Reuters)

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:43 PM ET

SAN JOSE - It was only fitting it was a fight to the finish.

And, in the end, when the San Jose Sharks needed a hero to save their season, Patrick Marleau stepped up with the third period winner to stop the miracle comeback from a 3-0 series deficit by the Detroit Red Wings.

Pointless in the series and called “gutless” on national TV, Marleau showed plenty of moxie by scoring at 12:13 of the third period to give the Sharks a 3-2 victory in a dramatic Game 7 at HP Pavilion.

“It’s awesome. Look at these fans, they’re going nuts,” said Marleau. “It’s crazy. It’s just great to be a part of it. Detroit is a great team. They battled hard right to the end.

“We can learn a lot from this series moving forward but we’ve got lots of work to do. The job is not done.”

No it isn't, but the Sharks did enough in Game 7 with a strong performance to get by the Wings after Detroit tied the series 3-3 and threatened to become the fourth team in NHL history to win a playoff series after being down 3-0.

Devin Setoguchi and Dan Boyle led the attack with two point efforts while Antti Niemi had 38 saves. Logan Couture scored the Sharks' other goal as they won in a game that many didn't give them a chance of winning.

“This is a dream come true. This is the kind of stuff you think about when you’re a kid,” said Setoguchi. “Game 7, the crowd, the atmosphere. This is the kind of situation you want. To score a goal feels good as well.

“You have to have confidence when you’re playing these games. You’ve got to believe in yourself and believe in your team. If anyone had a negative thought, it’s negative energy. It started with (Joe Thornton). He was rah-rah and telling everyone to stay positive.”

They were led by Thornton. He was one of the club’s best players. He was physical, made a great no-look pass on Setoguchi’s goal and was simply a force to be reckoned with as the Sharks avoided elimination.

This will be the second straight spring the Sharks have advanced to the Western final. If they hadn’t been able to get past the Wings -- especially in the fashion they would have lost the series in -- it would have been a disappointment.

Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg scored for Detroit.

Only moments after Marleau scored to give the Sharks a 3-1 lead in the third, Datsyuk performed his magic by beating Niemi at 13:59 of the third to bring the Wings within a goal as they just refused to give up.

“It’s a different game out there in the playoffs, especially in Game 7. There were times on the bench I caught myself shaking was I was so nervous,” said Couture. “We’ve got some guys who’ve been there and they understand.

“We had some poise down the stretch, we made some plays and we were able to win this one. It was an unbelievable series for the fans watching and the players playing in it. It was entertaining.”

The Wings weren’t ashamed of their effort. Let’s face it, they gave everything they had.

“Even when we were down 2-0 in the first I told our guys stay with it, we’ll get one here,” said Detroit coach Mike Babcock. “I thought we were in the driver’s seat to to tell you the truth. Just because we were coming after them.

“We gave up that third goal, we got one right away and I thought we still had lots of opportunities, but it didn’t go in. Our guys came here and we fully expected to go to Vancouver.”

The Sharks are the ones that have a date with the Canucks now.

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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