SAN JOSE — The San Jose Sharks finally grinded out a win again in the best way they know how: at home and in a shootout against the Colorado Avalanche.
Patrick Marleau scored in the fourth round of the shootout, Antti Niemi stopped three shots in the final session and the Sharks showed signs of busting out of a monthlong slump with a 3-2 victory over the Avalanche on Tuesday night.
"Big win. Real big win. It's so hard to win right now," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "Right now, we'll take the win any way we can get it."
The Sharks controlled the puck for most of the game but still had to sweat out a shootout.
Michal Handzus made the first shot and two Sharks missed before Marleau shook Semyon Varlamov, sneaking the puck between the goaltender's legs for the winning score. Niemi turned aside 25 of 27 shots before the shootout and blocked John Mitchell's shot to seal the victory.
Logan Couture and TJ Galiardi also scored goals for the Sharks, who snapped a two-game losing streak. San Jose has won eight straight against the Avalanche at home — including two shootouts — since Colorado won Game 1 of their first-round playoff series in 2010.
"It's no secret we've been struggling lately, and we're going to take any win we can," Galiardi said. "We just got to string them together now."
San Jose had been 1-6-3 in its last 10 games since setting a franchise record by winning its first seven of the season. The Sharks' 41 shots on goal were the most since a 4-0 win over the Avalanche exactly a month earlier.
Colorado still found a way to push San Jose to the brink.
Chuck Kobasew scored in the first period and Mark Olver netted the tying goal for the Avalanche with 3:16 remaining in regulation. Colorado ended its three-game trip 0-1-2.
"I think we stuck with it after falling behind so quickly," Avalanche forward P.A. Parenteau said. "It wasn't the greatest game nor was it the worst."
San Jose overcame the loss of its key contributors.
Colorado struggled to do the same.
Avalanche center Matt Duchene, leading the team with 11 assists and 17 points, sat out with a lower-body injury. Sharks forward Ryane Clowe served the second and final game of his suspension by the NHL for instigating a fight late in Friday's 2-1 loss at Chicago, and San Jose placed defenseman Brent Burns on injured reserve with a lower-body injury.
Just 25 seconds into the game, Joe Thornton stole the puck along the back boards and quickly passed to Couture collapsing on goal. Couture flicked the puck past Varlamov, falling to the ice as his seventh goal of the season — and first in nine games — sailed into the back of the net.
It was the fastest Sharks score this season, topping Thornton's goal 43 seconds into a 4-1 win over Vancouver on Jan. 27. Protecting the lead only lasted a little longer.
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