DETROIT -- Maybe it wasn't a drought just yet, but the Sharks' top two goal-scorers were definitely in a dry spell.
Luckily for San Jose, both Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture picked the same night to find the back of the net once again -- both in regulation and the shootout that followed -- to give the Sharks a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.
The shootout win Thursday night was exactly the kind of bounce-back effort the team was looking for after an embarrassing 4-0 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets just 48 hours earlier. San Jose remained fifth in the Western Conference playoff race.
"Our road game has been lacking a little bit," said Marleau, who scored his team-leading 17th goal of the season after notching just one goal in the previous 11 games. "Especially coming off a bad game in Columbus, you wanted to come out with a strong performance."
While Marleau and Couture were providing the offense, goalie Antti Niemi had another strong effort. Forward Justin Abdelkader and defenseman Jakob Kindl did score for Detroit, but Niemi made 27 saves -- several of them spectacular -- and two more in the shootout to improve San Jose's record against the Red Wings to 8-1-1 in their past 10 meetings.
The Red Wings entered the game in unfamiliar territory -- eighth seed in the Western Conference and at risk of missing the playoffs after 21 consecutive appearances, the longest streak of any pro sports franchise.
But it was the Sharks, whose streak of nine straight postseason showings is second best in the NHL, who took the early lead while short-handed at 2:35 of the first period. First, Joe Pavelski intercepted a pass deep in his own zone, then led the 2-on-1 rush capped by Marleau's shot that eluded Red Wing netminder Jimmy Howard.
For a while, Niemi was looking invincible, especially early in the second period when he robbed Cory Emmerton with a glove save as the Sharks goalie was tumbling to the ice.
"There was a crowd in front of the net and I fell on my back and I didn't see the puck," Niemi said. "Luckily I was able to look that way at that time."
But Detroit broke through at 9:51 of the second period when Abdelkader took a feed Johan Franzen behind the net and one-timed it under Niemi's pads to make it 1-1. And the Red Wings grabbed the lead at 2:29 of the third on a power play when Henrik Zetterberg found Kindl all alone in the slot.
Ninety-one seconds later, however, the Sharks had a power-play goal of their own as Couture used his backhand to roof the rebound of a shot by Joe Thornton over the Detroit goalie.
"I know Howard's going to be on his stomach there, pads on the ice, so I was able to get it upstairs," said Couture, who had only one goal in his past 10 games before scoring his 16th of the season.
Both teams had good scoring chances in overtime, but nothing was resolved.
Detroit standout Pavel Datsyuk opened the shootout by beating Niemi, but Couture came right back by sliding the puck through Howard's five-hole. Neither Red Wings rookie Damien Brunner nor Pavelski scored in the second round, setting the stage for the decisive finish.
First Niemi stopped a spinorama move by Gustav Nyquist, then Marleau made sure it was the Sharks who would leave with two points, not one.