Patrick Marleau shoved more than just the puck into the net with eight minutes left in regulation of Game 7 on Thursday night.
The San Jose Sharks forward tossed aside --- at least for one night --- the allusion that he is a playoff no-show, something that former NHL player tuned broadcaster Jeremy Roenick hammered home days earlier and a theory carried on as he failed to score in the series. But Marleau made his one goal --- and only point in the second-round series --- count as his tally off the scramble in front of the Detroit Red Wings’ net turned out to be the game-winner in a 3-2 victory.
“The job isn’t finished yet,” Marleau said in interview on Versus. “I like the way (the series) ended, that’s for sure.”
It wasn’t too pretty the last few days for the Sharks and for Marleau in particular. The Sharks lost three games in a row and were in danger of becoming the fourth team in NHL history to blow a 3-0 series lead. Marleau was called “gutless” --- twice --- by Roenick, a former teammate of Marleau’s in San Jose.
But even the outspoken Roenick could do nothing but applaud Marleau’s performance, although he hinted that his play in the second period was a little off. You can’t argue with that assessment, especially as Marleau failed to clear the puck on multiple occasions late in the second frame.
In the playoffs, however, it’s all about how you finish. Marleau not only scored the decisive goal in the decisive game, he also cleared the puck from his knees as time ticked down. He also drew a slashing penalty on a whack by Niklas Kronwall.
“This is the kind of play you need at the end of games and Patrick Malreau was there to make them tonight,” Roenick said. “Listen, I have no problem telling somebody when they did something bad. I have no problem when they come back at me and show something good. The only reason I'm tough on Patrick Marleau is because I know how good he is. I know what’s he capable of doing. He showed me tonight by getting the big goal, making the big plays when it was needed and that's why the San Jose Sharks won.”
Here's a look at the video via Yahoo! Sports' Puck Daddy blog:
It looked like Marleau proved some of critics wrong last year when he scored on overtime of Game 3 and tacked on the game-winner in Game 5 in the second round against the Wings last year. He was also the rare Shark to play well against the Chicago Blackhawks in the next round, compiling five goals and an assist as San Jose was swept.
Let’s see how long Thursday’s performance stays fresh in the minds of pundits.
-- A.J. Perez