SAN JOSE -- Patrick Marleau made sure Thursday night that the Phoenix Coyotes weren't going to ruin the Sharks' home opener in this lockout-shortened season.
Two third-period goals by Marleau sandwiched around one by Marty Havlat gave the Sharks a 5-3 victory over the Coyotes in the first NHL game at HP Pavilion in nine months.
It was Marleau's third consecutive two-goal performance and gave San Jose a perfect 3-0 record so far.
The Sharks were trailing 3-1 with less than 11 minutes left when the comeback began.
"There was still a lot of game left then, and we knew that," said Marleau, whose six goals lead the NHL. "We wanted to go down there and get pressure on them. We let that go away from our game."
Marleau's game-winner came with 1:53 to play with linemates Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton getting the assists. Thornton's four-point night gave him the NHL scoring lead with nine points.
Thornton "made a great play coming back, picked up a loose puck," Marleau said. "I kind of just took off. He found Pav, and Pav was able to slide it over to me. I just tried to get it away as quick as possible, and it found a way in."
Logan Couture scored the Sharks' first goal and a power-play empty netter by Thornton with 2.8 seconds left wrapped up the scoring. Steve Sullivan, Antoine Vermette and Lauri Korpikoski tallied for Phoenix.
The Sharks were after the two points, but they also were mindful of the bigger picture after
"It's also about rewarding our fans for a long patient wait," coach Todd McLellan said before the game.
The Sharks were the first team on the scoreboard at 19:22 when Couture deflected a shot by Pavelski past Coyotes goalie Jason LaBarbera for a power-play goal.
Earlier in the period, the Sharks failed to score on 1:39 of a two-man advantage, but the Coyotes managed to tie things up in the second period when they had the 5-on-3 edge. The Sharks killed 1:49 of the full two minutes, but Sullivan beat Antti Niemi from a harsh angle at 7:11.
It stayed that way until 5:01 of the third period when Coyotes captain Shane Doan appeared to knock Niemi off balance while Phoenix was on the power play. No penalty was called, and Vermette was able to get off a shot before the Sharks goalie recovered, and San Jose trailed 2-1.
"Somebody fell over and hit me," Niemi said. "I kind of fell, too, and the stick got caught somewhere on my leg. I didn't see the puck. When I saw it, it was already coming."
Did Niemi expect a penalty against Doan on the play?
"I hoped at best there would not be a goal because I couldn't do anything about it," Niemi said.
Korpikoski scored at 7:28 of the third to make it 3-1, but that only set the stage for the Sharks' four unanswered goals.
The first came when Thornton slid the puck into the slot, and Marleau hammered it home at 9:15. Less than four minutes after that, San Jose tied it when LaBarbera couldn't control a shot by Ryane Clowe and Havlat deftly worked the puck free and into the net.
Despite the win, the Sharks showed there was still work to do on the penalty kill team, which gave up two goals on six chances, and other areas such as shift lengths.
"Still inconsistencies throughout the night, but there are a lot of teams in the league that are like that," McLellan said. "It's our job to clean that up quicker than the others."
Overall, though, the emphasis in the locker room afterward was on the two points gained.
"A good character win," Couture said. "You get down two goals in the third period, fight back and find a way to win."
"He's been playing, so he's got his game down," Marleau said of Thornton, who played in Switzerland during the lockout. "I'm just still trying to play catch-up a little bit, but I've been able to find some spots, and he's been able to put it on my tape."
Added Thornton: "I know what he likes to do, he knows what I like to do. It doesn't matter if we were playing together during this lockout or not, we're still going to have good chemistry."
For more on the Sharks, see David Pollak's Working the Corners blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/sharks.
Colorado (2-1-0) at Sharks (3-0-0), 1 p.m. CSNCA
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