– Joe Thornton, 12 days away from playing in the NHL All-Star
Game, struck for two goals and one assist Tuesday as the San Jose
Sharks began a four-game homestand with a 7-1 victory over the
Tampa Bay Lightning at sold-out HP Pavilion.
SAN JOSE – Joe Thornton, 12 days away from playing in the NHL All-Star Game, struck for two goals and one assist Tuesday as the San Jose Sharks began a four-game homestand with a 7-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning at sold-out HP Pavilion.
One game into the second half of the season, the Sharks maintained a one-point edge over the Boston Bruins in the race for the top spot in the NHL, earning 69 points with a 32-5-5 record. San Jose remains unbeaten in regulation at home this season, carrying a 20-0-2 mark into Thursday’s rematch with Northwest Division-leading Calgary.
Tampa Bay, winner of three of its past four games entering Tuesday’s play, made one move at the Sharks, using rookie Steve Stamkos’ redirection shot past goalie Evgeni Nabokov to trail 2-1 with 7:47 gone in the second period. San Jose responded with three goals in a 10-minute span to leave the period with a 5-1 edge.
Stamkos, 18 years old and the first overall selection in last summer’s Entry Draft, moved into the slot and sent the puck just past Nabokov’s left pad for his fifth goal after taking a pass from 40-year-old Mark Recchi.
Tomas Plihal, the Sharks’ top-scoring rookie, matched Stamkos by netting his fifth of the year 2:12 into the third to make it 7-1.
San Jose equaled its season-high with seven goals, last done against the Washington Capitals, 7-2, on Nov. 22. The Sharks have a 20-point lead over second-place Anaheim in the Pacific Division.
Nabokov, second in the league with 23 wins, made 24 saves. Lightning netminder Karri Ramo, 22, played the full 60 minutes and managed 35 saves.
Thornton’s 50th point of the season came 2:17 into play. Devin Setoguchi’s strong forecheck left the puck for Thornton on the endboards in the Tampa Bay zone. Thornton began to cross behind the net, turned back and found Setoguchi open for the one-timer to beat Ramo for his 20th goal of the year.
Thornton was credited with his 10th goal of the year when his pass across the crease deflected off a Lightning defender and into the net at 14:05 of the first period. The Sharks appeared to have a 3-0 lead at 16:18 before a video review determined that Milan Michalek had kicked the puck into the net.
After Stamkos spoiled Nabokov’s bid for a 43rd career shut-out, the Sharks regained the two-goal lead at the 10-minute mark of the second. Patrick Marleau’s hard shot from the high slot left a short rebound at the left of the crease that Thornton stuffed home for his 11th goal of the season and career goal 251.
“It’s a nice accomplishment but I’ve got a lot of work left to do,” said Thornton.
Michalek came up with a goal at 17:51 during a power play. Jonathan Cheechoo and Marc-Edouard Vlasic managed the assists.
Ryane Clowe added a power-play goal with 3.6 seconds left in the second period. Michalek and Pavelski set up Clowe’s 15-footer with sharp short passes.
Pavelski added his 12th of the year 34 seconds into the third off a feed from Michalek.
Douglas Murray had a career-tying two-assist effort, last accomplished on Oct. 5, 2007 in Vancouver.