It was the first meeting between these two foes since their epic seven-game series during last year's NHL Western Conference Semifinals. The Red Wings forced a game seven after trailing 3-0 in the series, but lost 3-2 in the deciding game.
"It was a battle of the big boys," Sharks head coach Todd McClellan said. "Big players ended up scoring and contributing in the game."
Antti Niemi stopped 30-of-32 shots.
"We needed to get a win here tonight, anyway you look at it. Suddenly we've lost three in a row and those things start to pile up on you," Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock said.
Jimmy Howard made 26 saves.
Nicklas Lidstrom took a slap shot from the left point which ricocheted sharply off the back boards and right onto Zetterberg's stick just right of the crease. He jammed it into the open net for the first tally, 12:20 into the opening period.
Clowe tied it up 2:10 into the second period on a wrist shot from below the left circle off a Martin Havlat feed from the slot on the man advantage.
Marleau lifted a shot into the upper-right corner to give the Sharks a 2-1 lead a little under eight minutes into the second.
Holmstrom tied it 14:44 into the second period on the power play when he tipped one home from the crease off a shot from the right point by Pavel Datsyuk.
Thornton broke free on a breakaway and finished with a snap shot into the lower-left corner to give San Jose its first lead of the game, 3-2 late in the second period.
Niemi stopped nine shots in the third and Thornton's empty-netter with 35 seconds to play sealed the win.