LOS ANGELES -- Read this slowly.

Patrick Marleau now has more career overtime playoff goals than Wayne Gretzky.

Yes, that Patrick Marleau. The one doubters have said over the years didn't have what it takes to perform under Stanley Cup pressure. The same guy whose goal gave the Sharks a 4-3 overtime victory in Game 3 that puts San Jose in position to eliminate the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night.

"You can use it as motivation," Marleau said Wednesday of his critics, "but winning it for me is motivation enough. I don't have to bring in that other thing."

Marleau has four overtime goals in 143 career playoff games. Former Colorado Avalanche forward Joe Sakic tallied eight, legendary Maurice Richard of the Montreal Canadiens had six, and Gretzky's former Edmonton Oilers teammate Glenn Anderson had five.

After that comes Marleau, tied with eight other players -- including one of his harshest critics in the past before mellowing, former teammate Jeremy Roenick.

Gretzky? The NHL's all-time leading scorer finished with three in 202 playoff games.

Ask Marleau about his overtime success, and he shows some of the qualities that helped make him a Lady Byng Trophy finalist earlier in the same day that he beat the Kings.

"I think being surrounded by really good players helps out a lot," he said. "Playing with good teams over the years, being able to play with highly talented players helps me immensely."

But others are quick to give Marleau the credit for what he has accomplished.

"He's one of the most trusted players on the team by the coaching staff and his teammates," coach Todd McLellan said. "He consistently plays 82 games a season, scores goals, big goals, big playoff overtime-type goals. He just gets it done."

Postseason heroics are not limited to overtime for Marleau. Beyond those overtime goals, he has another 11 game-winners for a total of 15 -- second only to the 16 by New Jersey forward Jaromir Jagr among active NHL players. Overall, Marleau has 60 postseason goals, again, second only to Jagr, and 101 points.

Marleau, 34, is coming off perhaps his most consistent season of the 16 he has played in San Jose. There were brief lulls -- "He's not perfect," McLellan would add, "but show me who is" -- but he was reliable in all three zones as he scored 33 goals and 70 points.

Eight months ago, things didn't start out too well for Marleau, as he was not invited to Team Canada's orientation camp in August. That only gave him something to prove once again, and his play eventually earned him a trip to Sochi, where he helped Canada win Olympic gold.

The Sharks are built offensively around Marleau and Joe Thornton, with both bearing the brunt of outside criticism for the fact the Sharks have yet to reach the Stanley Cup finals. When Sports Illustrated predicted Los Angeles to win this series, those two were singled out.

But Thornton and Marleau also have formed a mutual admiration society over the years. When both were signed to three-year contract extensions in January, each said they wanted the other to be included in a package deal.

Part of general manager Doug Wilson's plan in constructing the Sharks has been to have veteran players help prepare the next generation coming in to succeed them. Marleau is getting that job done, too.

"For me he's a great role model," said Matt Nieto, a 21-year-old rookie. "He has that speed asset that I like to use. For me, just watching and learning and seeing what he does out there is really key. He's a big-time player. He's finds ways to score."

And what part of Marleau's game is the most instructive?

"I think his release is unbelievable," Nieto said. "He gets his shot off so quick, and that's something I need to work on to be a scorer in this league. You can see why he's had such a successful career."

Marleau's game-winner Tuesday night might have looked lucky, as it appeared to clip a Kings defenseman's stick and float into the net over Jonathan Quick's outstretched glove.

But teammate Brad Stuart believes Marleau makes his own luck in times like that.

"You can say that goal was lucky," Stuart said, "but there's a reason why players like that get those opportunities. He takes advantage of them, and that's what good players do."

INSIDE
  • Purdy: Four reasons I was wrong about this series. PAGE 6
  • Sweep would provide welcome rest for Sharks. PAGE 6
  • Series schedule. PAGE 6