SAN JOSE, California — Jimmy Howard's internal dialogue helped him step up and take charge. His teammates made it easy for him.
Pavel Datsyuk and Temu Pulkkinen also scored for the Red Wings, who snapped a two-game skid. Howard made 20 saves — just two in the third period — for the win, his fourth in 14 career games against San Jose. The Sharks managed to kill off a four-minute penalty midway through the third period that helped preserve their lead.
That's when Howard started talking to himself.
"After that, you could sense the building getting louder and louder and louder," Howard said. "At that moment in time, I thought, 'Here they come. You're going to have to make some saves for the guys.' We just did a good job and Glenny was able to make a good play."
Antti Niemi stopped 32 of 35 shots, including 17 in the second period, for the Sharks.
"They competed harder than we did in the first period and we took the game over in the second and third," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "Niemi was really, really good to keep them in the game, but we just kept coming and found a way."
Matt Irwin and Patrick Marleau scored for the Sharks, who dropped their seventh straight at home, their longest skid of the season and further hurting their playoff hopes.
"In the second period, we were back on our heels and we took too many penalties in the third," Sharks center Logan Couture said. "They skated better than we did. We're finding ways to lose. We have to find ways to win."
Irwin managed to find just enough space through traffic to drive the puck into the net following a pass from Joe Thornton, giving the Sharks the early advantage midway through the first period.
The Red Wings answered with a power-play goal early in the second period. The league's best power play was 0 for 5 in Tuesday's loss to the Los Angeles Kings. Scott Weiss centered the puck to Riley Sheahan, who quickly flipped it to Pulkkinen for a wide-open shot into the net.
Pulkkinen scored his first goal since returning to Detroit two weeks ago. He has scored twice in 11 games for the Red Wings.
"It was a great play for the guys," Pulkkinen said. "I was wide open, so it was an easy goal just to put it in."
Marleau scored his 450th career goal on a power play three minutes later to put the Sharks back on top. He fired a shot after taking the puck off Howard's pads.
Datsyuk didn't need a power play to tie the score with 6:28 left in the third period. He back-handed a shot that slipped under Niemi's glove after taking a pass from Tomas Tatar, who worked the puck from behind the net.
"Howie came up with some big saves," Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "And we did a lot of good things. Our first period wasn't up to standards. We crawled back to get some late, timely goals."
Datsyuk has scored seven of his 22 goals in the past seven games. He also has 11 points in that span.
NOTES: Red Wings D Kyle Quincey missed his fourth straight game with bone chips in his ankle. He can play as long as he can stand the pain. ... Detroit F Henrik Zetterberg missed his third straight with concussion-like symptoms, but has begun to skate again. ... Sharks C Joe Thornton moved into sole possession of 20th place on the NHL's career assists list with 892, ending a season-worst three-game scoreless streak. ... Marleau scored his first power-play goal since Nov. 8. ... Datsyuk has 33 points in 42 games against the Sharks. ... Sharks C Logan Couture has 12 points in 14 games against the Red Wings.