Niklas Kronwall and Daniel Cleary scored for the Red Wings, who have lost two straight since a four-game winning streak. Detroit has been beaten in five consecutive road games. Defenseman Brendan Smith made his long-awaited debut, but was never a factor, finishing with a minus-2 points. He blocked one shot.
"We were playing well in the first period," Red Wings center Henrik Zetterberg said. "We held on to the puck, got it to the net and ended the period tied. In the second period they took advantage of their chances."
"He had to play well for us tonight," Thornton said of Niemi. "We got outshot 3-to-1. He played well."
Kronwall gave Detroit a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal late in the first period. His shot from the blue line pinballed off Niemi and Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle before finding the back of the net.
"We're at the point now where we have to decide what kind of team we want to be," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "You can't let this snowball on you. You have to win on the road and you have to win at home."
The Sharks tied it with 12 seconds remaining in the period on Pavelski's short-handed goal. Thornton raced to gather the puck, and delivered a pass to Pavelski's stick.
"It's amazing to me how we played so well at the start yet we gifted a goal right at the end of the period," Babcock said. "We had enough people back and we were looking at the puck and we gave them a goal."
Thornton's second-period goal opened the gates for the Sharks. He took a pass from Logan Couture and sent it into the top right corner of the net midway through the period.
Vlasic scored three minutes later on a wraparound, and Mitchell made it 4-1 with 1:42 left in the period.
"It was just the opportunities I took went in," Vlasic said. "I was fortunate. They were outskating us and out playing us until Thornton scored and that gave us a lift."
Winchester picked up a rebound in front of the net midway through the third period and scored to give the Sharks a four-goal edge.
Cleary added a power-play goal late for the Red Wings.
Thornton is 73rd on the NHL points list with 1,016. ... The Red Wings were 0 for 16 on the power play before connecting twice against the Sharks. ... Kronwall has four goals in six games. ... Pavelski scored the Sharks' second short-handed goal of the season. ... Several Oakland Raiders were in attendance, including Sam Williams, Quentin Groves and Tyvon Branch.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Arena: SAP Center Location: San Jose, California
Referees: Ghislain Hebert, Chris Lee Linesmen: Brad Kovachik, Bryan Pancich
Attendance: 17,562 (100.4% full)
Team Stat Comparison
Power Play Goals
Power Play Opportunities
Shots on Goal
Niklas Kronwall (5)
(Power Play) Assists: Pavel Datsyuk, Nicklas Lidstrom
Joe Pavelski (10)
(Shorthanded) Assists: Joe Thornton, Marc-Edouard Vlasic
Joe Thornton (5)
Assists: Logan Couture, Marc-Edouard Vlasic
Marc-Edouard Vlasic (2)
Assists: Andrew Desjardins, Brad Winchester