SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Derek Meech scored a tiebreaking power-play goal early in the third period and the Detroit Red Wings rallied from an early two-goal deficit to beat the San Jose Sharks 4-2 Tuesday night.
The Red Wings, who have won the Western Conference the past two seasons, are fighting just to make the playoffs this year in a season hampered by injuries. Detroit is tied for seventh in the conference.
Joe Thornton scored a pair of goals for the Sharks, who have only two regulation losses in their past 12 games — both at home against Detroit. The Red Wings lost eight of 11 games in between those two wins.
The Red Wings and Sharks have fought for the best regular-season record in the conference the past two years. This season, they are more likely to be first-round playoff opponents instead of battling for the top seed. That would be bad news for San Jose, which has not made it out of the second round the past four seasons, including last year's first-round loss to Anaheim.
Detroit erased the two-goal deficit with two late scores in the first period and then won it in the third. With Ryane Clowe in the penalty box for boarding, Meech scored on a bad angle shot from the side of the net that deflected in off goalie Evgeni Nabokov to make it 3-2.
Less than 5 minutes later, Eaves took a pass from the point from Brian Rafalski and scored an easy goal to make it 4-2. The Sharks couldn't score the rest of the way against Jimmy Howard, who had 32 saves.
This was San Jose's final home game for a month. The team starts a six-game road trip on Thursday and then will be off for the Olympic break before returning to host New Jersey on March 2.
Thornton got the Sharks off to a fast start by scoring his two goals on rebounds of shots by Dany Heatley. Thornton had gone 15 regular-season games without scoring against Detroit before breaking through twice in a span of 3:34.
The lead was short-lived for San Jose as Detroit scored twice in just over 4 minutes to tie it late in the first. Cleary struck first when he one-timed a centering pass from Valtteri Filppula past Nabokov.
Then with the Red Wings on a two-man advantage when Rob Blake was called for delay of game with Patrick Marleau already in the box, Zetterberg knocked in a rebound of a shot by Tomas Holmstrom to tie the game with 1:02 left in the first.
That's where the score stood until the Red Wings put it away in the third. Both teams had chances in the second but Nabokov turned aside five shots on a power play by Detroit late in the period.
NOTES: Holmstrom returned to the lineup after missing 13 games with a broken foot and had two assists. ... The Sharks were without two of their usual defensemen with Dan Boyle (upper body injury) missing his fifth straight game and Marc-Edouard Vlasic (lower body injury) missing his second straight. ... The Sharks honored their eight Olympians before the game. ... San Jose F Jamie McGinn was recalled from the minors and played on the fourth line.