The Big Pavelski was the main attraction on Sunday for the San Jose Sharks, but the original Big Joe came through when it counted most.
Joe Thornton scored the game-winning goal for the Sharks in the third period after red-hot teammate Joe Pavelski tied things up with his second of the game, and the end result was a 4-3 win over the visiting Detroit Red Wings in Game 2 of their Western Conference semifinal.
Pavelski scored two goals, which extended his playoff-leading tally to nine, and added an assist, while Thornton had a goal and an assist in the third.
"It's good to see pucks go in the net," Pavelski said. "It's good to work hard and get rewarded. It always feels good to chip in. There's a lot more to go though."
Thanks to the two Joes' contribution, San Jose has a 2-0 series lead on the defending West champions.
Thornton scored the winner at 12:37 of the third, potting a rebound off a Dany Heatley shot on a 3-on-1. It was Thornton's first goal of the playoffs and second in his last 20 playoff games.
But again, it was Pavelski who stole the show for the Sharks. The 25-year-old scored the game-tying goal nearly five minutes into the third period and was a thorn in Detroit's side all night.
"Whatever planet he's on, I think everyone wants to get on it with him," Thornton said. "He's just been so consistent — he's been awesome. He really has been."
The Sharks were aided by a surprisingly undisciplined Red Wings team that took 10 penalties, which led to a couple of San Jose power-play goals. The Sharks surrendered a power-play marker on one of their four penalties.
"This is very frustrating," Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard said. "We had the game going into the third period, we're up 3-2 but the penalties did us in, in the end."
Detroit's Immovable Object, the crease-crashing Tomas Holmstrom, scored the Wings' second goal and had a hand in their third marker as he spoiled goalie Evgeni Nabokov's line of sight during Nicklas Lidstrom's shot.
Pavel Datsyuk had a goal and an assist for the Wings, while Ryane Clowe scored San Jose's other tally.
San Jose came out with guns blazing in Game 2, which was a carbon copy of Game 1, as the Sharks outshot Detroit 10-1 in the first seven minutes and buzzed around Howard's crease trying to find another quick opening goal.
That's when Datsyuk scored to spoil things.
The Russian sniper was on a solo rush against two Sharks when he cut across the middle and fired a bullet past Nabokov to make it 1-0 at 6:51.
If that was supposed to stop the Sharks, it didn't. San Jose kept coming and was rewarded with two goals in 1:31 to overturn the deficit.
And, as usual, the Big Pavelski was at the centre of the Sharks' revival. He scored San Jose's first by tipping in a Heatley point shot on the power play at 9:01, then assisted on a beauty from Clowe, who put a between-the-legs shot past Howard at 10:32.
Back came the Wings at 13:17 thanks to Holmstrom who again scored while parked in the blue paint. A Brian Rafalski point shot went off Holmstrom and past Nabokov on the power play at 13:17 to cap scoring in a wild opening period.
Though the Sharks outshot the Wings 15-7, the teams were tied 2-2 after the first.
Holmstrom was up to his usual tricks at the start of a less frenzied second period, and his havoc in the Sharks crease gave Detroit a 3-2 lead two minutes in.
He was parked right in front of Nabokov as Lidstrom scored from the point. It was the veteran defenceman's 50th career playoff goal, and he's ranked third on the all-time list for that position.
San Jose looked very dangerous on a mid-period power play, but only had a few shots on net and a hit goalpost to its credit after it was over.
The Wings pressed hard to extend the lead at the start of the third, but Nabokov came up big with a glove save on Datsyuk two minutes into the period to keep the Sharks one goal behind.
That save would prove to be a big one, as Pavelski struck again to tie the game at 4:40 on a 5-on-3, when he knocked in a loose puck during a scramble in front of the Red Wings' net.
After Thornton's goal, Pavelski had a chance for a hat trick with four minutes left, but was stopped by a sprawling Howard in close.
The two sides return to Detroit for Game 3 on Tuesday.With files from The Associated Press