Marleau shootout goal lifts Sharks past Wings

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DETROIT (Reuters) - Patrick Marleau scored the game-winning goal in a shootout to give the San Jose Sharks a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings Thursday.

After neither team converted during five attempts in the shootout, Marleau stepped up to help the Sharks beat the Red Wings for the first time in four games this season.

The win moved San Jose (40-12-9) into a tie with the Eastern Conference-leading Washington Capitals for the NHL's lead in points.

Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov led the effort with a career-high 50 saves to repel an aggressive Detroit (27-21-12).

"Two points is two points, I don't care who it is against," Nabokov told reporters. "There are so many good teams and getting the points is what counts. (Detroit) was shooting from everywhere and coming to the net and battling. It was great for our 'D' to defend that."

Johan Franzen gave the Red Wings a 1-0 lead at 12:13 in the first period, but Joe Thornton responded with a tip-in 25 seconds later and Dwight Helminen put San Jose in front with 10 seconds left in the first.

Both teams went scoreless in the second before Detroit center Jason Williams equalized at 12:55 in the third to force overtime.

The Red Wings lost their fourth straight as they battle for a playoff spot in the Western Conference after making the Stanley Cup finals last year.

"When you lose in a shootout and your team doesn't play well, those are the tough ones. I didn't feel that way tonight," said Red Wings coach Mike Babcock. "We had every opportunity to win the game tonight."

Playing without defenseman Niklas Kronwall, sidelined with a knee injury, Detroit welcomed forward Tomas Holmstrom back from his own knee injury and he recorded an assist.

Franzen, a third player to suffer a knee injury in the Red Wings camp, continued his successful rehabilitation from a 55-game absence with a solid performance in only his second game back.

The Sharks have now won four of their last five and have avoided being swept in a season series by Detroit for the first time since the 1996-97 season. In the teams matchup nine days earlier, San Jose took a 2-0 lead in the first but still managed to fall 4-2.

(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Ian Ransom)