Thornton nets winner as San Jose tops Blue Jackets 3-2

JOSE – Joe Thornton celebrated his 500th game as a San
Jose Shark by scoring the winning goal in a 2-1 victory over the
Columbus Blue Jackets at sold-out HP Pavilion Thursday

Columbus, lodged at the bottom of
the overall NHL standings with 25 points in 40 games, garnered the
game’s first goal before the Sharks rebounded to claim their third
consecutive win.

Jose, atop the Pacific Division with 48 points, hosts Washington
Saturday before starting a four-game Midwest roadtrip Tuesday in

Thornton solidified his hold as the
leading scorer on the club when he swatted home his eighth goal of
the season (32nd point) at 4:44 of the second period for
a 2-1 Shark advantage.

As Patrick
Marleau prepared to fire a shot from the high slot after taking a
pass from Jason Demers, Thornton gained position at the right edge
of the crease. When Marleau’s shot was stopped by goaltender Curtis
Sanford, Thornton, shadowed closely by 21-year-old defenseman David
Savard, was able to keep his stick free and slap the puck inside
the right post. Thornton has at least one point in eight of the
last 10 games.

Jose coach Todd McLellan has 100 more victories than regulation
losses (174-74-35) in his young career.

After watching
Antti Niemi in goal for the past 13 games, Thomas Greiss earned the
start between the pipes against Columbus. After surrendering a goal
on the fourth Blue Jacket shot on net, Greiss went on to improve
his record for the year to 5-4 with a 23-save effort.

Vinny Prospal,
the 36-year-old topping the Columbus scoring list this season,
notched his eighth goal of the year 2:13 into play.

Antoine Vermette
chased down a rebound of his own shot before sending the puck to
the endboards to Mark Letestu. A behind-the-back pass to Prospal
led to a quick shot inside the left post from point-blank

Columbus came into the game with
the league’s worst road penalty-kill record (68.5%). When Ryan
Johansen was given a four-minute high-sticking penalty at 9:48 of
the first period, the Sharks gained the 1-1 tie at the 13:03

Demers, on the
way to his first multiple-point game of the season, fed Michal
Handzus the puck at the left post. When Sanford rebuffed both of
Handzus’ jabs at the net, Ryane Clowe lifted the puck over
Sanford’s left pad for his eighth goal of the season.

Jose defenseman Dan Boyle, the victim of six minutes worth of
high-sticking by Johansen, gained a measure of revenge in the
closing 10 seconds when his sliding block of a one-timer by Jeff
Carter stopped the visitors from a tying goal.

Thursday’s game
was the first of four between the two Western Conference clubs
within a 28-game span.

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