SAN JOSE — Damen Brunner scored the lone goal in the shootout and Jonas Gustavsson stopped all three shots in his first start of the season to lead the Detroit Red Wings to their third win in four games, 2-1, over the struggling San Jose Sharks on Thursday night.
Logan Couture scored the lone goal for the Sharks, who lost 10 of 12 games in February and have just one regulation win in their past 14 games. Antti Niemi made 33 saves.
But Brunner beat Niemi in the second round of the shootout with a forehand and the Red Wings got the win when Ryane Clowe shot wide in the final round.
Patrick Eaves scored the equalizer midway through the third period and Gustavsson made 25 saves to get his first win since March 3, 2012, for Toronto against Montreal.
This game between the only two teams to make the playoffs in every season since the 2004-05 lockout took on added importance as both squads have struggled to find consistency in this lockout-shortened season. Both teams are in a logjam in the middle of the Western Conference, with the Red Wings tied for fourth and the Sharks one point back in a five-way tie for sixth place.
The teams traded goals early in the third period, with Couture putting the Sharks on top when he scored the first goal less than five minutes into the period. The goal came after an odd bounce off the backboards on a dump-in by Douglas Murray. Couture and Joe Thornton did a good job at the blue line to keep the puck in the offensive zone and Thornton then found Couture for a one-timer from the circle to make it 1-0.
Niemi made a strong stop on a rebound from Daniel Cleary to preserve the lead but had no chance when Eaves tipped Niklas Kronwall’s point shot past him for the tying goal less than two minutes after San Jose scored.
Gustavsson preserved the tie when he made a tough stop on Thornton from in close with less than seven minutes to play, and the game remained that way for the rest of regulation.
The teams were scoreless through two periods as Gustavsson was sharp and Niemi turned aside all of Detroit’s chances, including a few during a first-period power play for the Red Wings.
The Sharks had the better of the chances after that, with Couture generating a few scoring chances in the first period and Clowe missing wide after struggling to control the puck on a breakaway. Clowe, back after missing two games for a suspension, has no goals in 17 games this season.
Failing to get a shot on net on odd-man rushes plagued the Sharks as they were unable to test Gustavsson on a pair of 2-on-1s in the second period. Patrick Marleau missed Marty Havlat with a pass on the first one and Thornton failed to get the puck to Havlat on a slow-developing second chance.