Marleau sparks Sharks' rally over Coyotes

Published: Friday, Jan. 25, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3C
Last Modified: Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013 - 3:04 pm

SAN JOSE – Patrick Marleau scored the tiebreaking goal with 1:53 remaining for his third straight two-goal game, helping the Sharks rally from a two-goal deficit to beat the Phoenix Coyotes 5-3 in their home opener Thursday night.

Logan Couture and Marty Havlat also scored, and Joe Thornton had three assists and an empty-net goal for the Sharks, who opened the season with three straight wins for the first time since 2008-09. Antti Niemi made 32 saves.

Steve Sullivan, Antoine Vermette and Lauri Korpikoski scored for the Coyotes, who were unable to hold onto a 3-1 lead in the third period on the back end of a back-to-back.

Marleau started San Jose's comeback with a goal midway through the third period and then beat Jason LaBarbera for the game-winner. Thornton started the play with a sharp up-ice pass to Joe Pavelski, who fed Marleau for the wrist shot.

The Coyotes seemed to take control with two goals in a span of 2:27 of the third period to take a 3-1 lead. The outburst started when Sullivan came out of the penalty box to start a 15-second power play that Phoenix capitalized on. Sullivan's shot was blocked but Vermette knocked the rebound past Niemi, who was off-balance after Shane Doan was knocked into him by a Sharks defender.

While Niemi had little chance to stop that shot, he did a poor job on Phoenix's next goal when Korpikoski beat him to the short side from a bad angle to give the Coyotes a two-goal edge.

That proved to be short-lived as Marleau took a pass from Thornton in the slot and beat LaBarbera to make it 3-2. Havlat then got the equalizer when he knocked in a rebound with 6:54 remaining.

After beating Calgary and Edmonton in their home openers to begin the season, the Sharks got their long-awaited chance to play before their own fans for the first time in more than nine months because of the four-month NHL lockout.

San Jose got a break when Phoenix goalie Mike Smith was scratched because of a lower-body injury. Smith, who became the first goalie to shut out the Sharks three times in one season a year ago, left Wednesday's win over Columbus in the first period because of the injury.

LaBarbera was up to the task early as the Sharks used the energy from the crowd to get off to a fast start.

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