Ottawa Senators left wing Dany Heatley, right, of Germany, battles with San Jose Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic during an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Wednesday, March 5, 2008. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Marcio Jose Sanchez
SAN JOSE, Calif. - Patrick Marleau's name was bandied about in rumours all last month leading to up the trading deadline. The decision by the San Jose Sharks to keep their captain just might have been the spark he needed to turn around a difficult season.
Marleau scored his second goal of the game 3:05 into overtime to lead the Sharks to their seventh straight win, 3-2 over the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday night.
"A world of weight has been taken off his shoulders," said coach Ron Wilson, who had been Marleau's harshest critic since last post-season. "That's helped. It's always hard to play when you're worrying about being traded. That news that he wasn't energized him."
Marleau downplayed any relief he might have felt when he stayed in San Jose, but his performance speaks otherwise. He has three goals and three assists in the five games since the deadline after scoring only 10 goals in his first 58 games.
The winner came when Joe Pavelski centerd a pass from behind the net that Marleau knocked past Martin Gerber for his 13th goal, and third in two games.
"It's nice to help the team defensively and offensively," he said. "Anytime you can chip in and help the team get two points, you have to be happy with your game."
The Sharks rallied from a pair of one-goal deficits in the third period, winning for just the third time in 23 games this season when they trailed after two periods.
San Jose made up ground in the Pacific Division on Dallas and Anaheim, which both lost Wednesday night. The Sharks moved one point past the Ducks and within three of the first-place Stars.
Jason Spezza scored both goals for the Senators, who have lost five of six (1-4-1) and fell for just the fourth time in 30 games when leading after two.
Senators general manager-coach Bryan Murray probably wished he hadn't stuck around for the end of this game after being ejected late in the third period of Monday night's loss in Anaheim. Murray, who fired coach John Paddock late last month, fell to 1-2-1 since taking over the coaching duties.
"I thought we played well defensively, a 2-1 hockey game until late," Murray said. "We gave up a turnover in the neutral zone and that was the difference in them being able to tie it up. Other than that, I thought we were going to survive and get the two points."
Marleau also scored on the power play in the opening minute of the third period to tie it at 1 for San Jose. Marleau one-timed a pretty pass from newly acquired Brian Campbell in his first two-goal game of the season.
"Patty did all of the work tonight," said Campbell, who has five points in five games with San Jose. "I'm just trying to be creative out there."
Spezza gave Ottawa a 2-1 lead on the power play when he deflected a shot from the boards by Cory Stillman past Evgeni Nabokov with 7:10 remaining for his 27th goal.
But the Sharks answered in the closing minutes when Jonathan Cheechoo deflected Joe Thornton's centring pass in with 2:46 remaining in regulation. The goal was Cheechoo's 21st of the season and 16th in the last 23 games.
"It's disappointing to get a lead late in the game and not hold it," said Gerber, who made 27 saves. "You should be able to bring it home."
Nabokov made 17 saves for the Sharks, who held Ottawa to a season-low 19 shots.
There were few scoring chances early until Ottawa capitalized on a mistake by San Jose midway through the second period. Chris Kelly and Dany Heatley combined to steal the puck from Douglas Murray in the Sharks' zone. Heatley then fed Spezza, who beat Evgeni Nabokov from in front to give the Senators the 1-0 lead with his 26th goal.
Notes: Ottawa leading scorer Daniel Alfredsson missed the game after being cross-checked in the ribs Monday at Anaheim. ... Sharks F Jeremy Roenick missed his second straight game with the flu. ... This was the Senators' first game in San Jose in 1,600 days, a 4-1 victory on Oct. 18, 2003. The teams last played in Ottawa on Jan. 12, 2006.