Thornton Makes Big Splash

The Joe Thornton Era, Home Version, opened Tuesday with the San
Jose Sharks extending a winning streak to three games by topping
the visiting Atlanta Thrashers in front of 15,812 fans at HP
Pavilion at San Jose.
San Jose – The Joe Thornton Era, Home Version, opened Tuesday with the San Jose Sharks extending a winning streak to three games by topping the visiting Atlanta Thrashers in front of 15,812 fans at HP Pavilion at San Jose.

One week into Thornton’s play with the Sharks, the center has delivered six points, including a goal and assist in the first period as San Jose settled into a 3-1 lead.

Patrick Marleau continued a hot streak, adding three assists against the Thrashers. The captain has recorded nine points in the past three outings.

Thornton needed just two shifts to make the scoresheet. The Sharks earned a power play at 1:57 of the first period. Just 59 seconds later, Thornton deftly backhanded a pass onto the stick of Jonathan Cheechoo in the high slot. The winger delivered the one-timer past rookie goaltender Michael Garnett for a 1-0 lead at 2:56.

“He has a fantastic release,” Thornton said of the first goal by Cheechoo. “He keeps his stick nice and uses a nice release.”

San Jose enjoyed a 2-0 cushion when Rob Davison logged his first goal of the season at 4:06. The defenseman took advantage of an offensive zone face-off win by Marleau to whip a 25-footer past Garnett.

The Thrashers responded with a goal at 5:37 of the same period. Winger Brad Larsen one-timed a feed from the left boards from J. P. Vigier to beat Vesa Toskala from 15 feet.

A second Sharks power play again made it a two-goal contest. San Jose used just 30 seconds of extra-man play before Thornton pounced on a short Garnett rebound in front of the crease and stuffed home the first goal of his Sharks career at the 13:20 mark.

Thornton’s two points pushed him to 39 points (10-29), worth the fifth position in the NHL scoring derby.

“He’s so patient with the puck, especially on the power play,” Marleau said of Thornton.

“His size, strength and reach,” make Thornton so dangerous on offense.

Both teams netted two goals in the second period, leaving the Sharks up 5-3.

Atlanta began the period’s scoring when All-Star Marian Hossa scored while the Thrashers were shorthanded at 1:23.

San Jose came back with two goals. Nils Ekman juked past Thrasher defenseman Shane Hnidy before wristing a 10-footer over Garnett’s right shoulder at 8:06. Tom Preissing converted a soft set-up pass from Alyn McCauley into a crisp 20-footer past Garnett at 12:04.

Hossa completed the period’s scoring by beating Toskala with a breakaway for a second time at 19:04.

“The power play was starting to click since we put Patty (Marleau) on the point,” said coach Ron Wilson. “Obviously, Joe’s playmaking ability helps. He makes the right pass. Patty’s been on nine of the 15 goals in these three games. The concern now is to not suffer any defensive breakdowns.”

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