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San Jose, Calif. — It was a slow start, but a great ending for the Red Wings.

After a forgettable opening 20 minutes Thursday night against the San Jose Sharks, the Red Wings rallied from a 2-1 deficit with two late goals by Pavel Datsyuk and Luke Glendening, giving them a resilient 3-2 victory.

Glendening got the winner at 18:45, his eighth goal, converting a backhand in front of the net.

"There's so much character in the room," Glendening said of what's behind the Red Wings' resiliency. "It starts with the leadership, with Z (Henrik Zetterberg), he leads in so many ways, and Kroner (Niklas Kronwall) and Pavel (Datsyuk), and it just trickles down to the rest of us."

The Red Wings had six minutes of power play go nowhere early in the third period — including a double-minor where Sharks goalie Antti Niemi frustrated the Red Wings for four minutes — but they persevered.

When Datsyuk tied it 2-2 with his 22nd goal at 13:32, also a backhand in the slot, the rally definitely took shape.

"It probably could have been deflating, not getting anything on the four-minute," said Jimmy Howard, who stopped 20 shots to earn the victory. "But we kept coming and chipping away and we found a way."

The Red Wings (34-15-11, 79 points) had to survive a power play from the Sharks (30-24-8, 68 points) in the final 40 seconds of their fifth game in this six-game road swing (3-1-1).

Teemu Pulkkinen (power play) had a first-period goal for the Red Wings, a fitting reward for arguably his best game since being promoted from Grand Rapids, on a line with equally effective Stephen Weiss and Joakim Andersson.

Matt Irwin and Patrick Marleau (power play) had Sharks goals.

"They (Sharks) competed harder in the first and won all the races and battles," coach Mike Babcock said. "We took the game over in the second and third, and Niemi was real good and kept them in the game, but we kept coming and in the end, we found a way to get it done.

"Pulky (Pulkkinen), Andersson and Weiss were real good for us and Darren Helm was an absolute star, but we had a lot of good players."

Marleau broke a 1-1 tie at 6:51 of the second period.

Marleau jumped on a loose puck in front of Howard and put in his 13th goal.

The Red Wings tied the game earlier in the period with Pulkkinen's second goal.

Weiss saw San Jose defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic without a stick and slid the puck to Pulkkinen alone at the post.

The Red Wings recovered from a lackluster first period to out-shoot San Jose 18-6 in the middle period and were denied by Niemi on several outstanding chances.

The Red Wings were fortunate to escape only trailing 1-0 after one period.

San Jose out-shot the Red Wings 14-4 in the first period and had a pair of power plays, but couldn't get a second goal past Howard.

Irwin scored the Sharks goal at 7:06, a shot from the top of the slot that Howard couldn't locate through a maze of bodies.

"We found a way to stick with it," Kronwall said. "We stayed patient and kept coming and got pucks deep. We found a different way and took two points."

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/tkulfan

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