SAN JOSE, Calif. — Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau have been linked ever since they went one-two in the 1997 NHL draft to Boston and San Jose.

They became teammates with the Sharks more than a decade ago, won a gold medal for Canada at the 2010 Olympics and each had their captaincies stripped as they became the faces of so many postseason failures in San Jose.

Now at age 36 and after more than 3,000 combined games, 949 goals and 2,610 career points in the regular and postseason, Thornton and Marleau have the opportunity to add the only thing missing on their impressive career resumes if they can win the Stanley Cup.

“It’s just the next step for us,” Thornton said Friday. “We’ve been doing a really good job of staying day to day, shift to shift. This is just another challenge we’re hoping to come out on top on.”

The two will take the ice in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in their careers Monday in Pittsburgh, ending a long journey that included many disappointments and criticism that was often undeserved.

“It’s two legends,” teammate Brent Burns said. “I’ve said it before. Those two are some of the best players to ever play the game. It’s huge to get them here. They’ve done pretty much everything else. They sometimes take a bad rap in the media, which is unnecessary. Anybody that’s played with them sees the way that they work and what kind of teammates they are, what kind of people they are.”

They just haven’t always been considered that way because of the lack of playoff success that was at times as much a reflection on the lack of help they got as it was on any deficiencies in their games.

But both also failed to raise their game at the biggest points of the season. Thornton went pointless during a seven-game loss to Montreal in his final playoffs in Boston in 2004 and also posted a -11 rating in the 2010 playoffs in San Jose when the Sharks got swept by Chicago in the Western final.

Marleau struggled in the 2007, 2008 and 2009 playoffs when San Jose got knocked out twice in the second round and then lost as the top seed in the first round to Anaheim in 2009.

Marleau played 165 playoff games before reaching his first final, the most of any player. Thornton was next on that list with 150 games before making it to the finals in his 15th postseason.

That they will be there as Sharks only makes it more special. There was talk they could be traded a couple years ago..