Thornton pushes Sharks past Blue Jackets - The Hockey News on Sports Illustrated

Thornton pushes Sharks past Blue Jackets

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By Michael Duca

PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SAN JOSE, California (Ticker) -- Joe Thornton scored his eighth

goal of the season less than eight minutes into the third period

to snap a tie and lift the San Jose Sharks to their ninth

straight win, a 3-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on

Thursday.

Jeremy Roenick and captain Patrick Marleau scored on the power

play, defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic notched three assists and

Evgeni Nabokov made 29 saves for the Sharks, who improved to

14-0-1 at home.

"That was probably our worst game of the year and we still won,"

Thornton said. "If (anyone) was really deserving of the win, it

was the goaltender."

San Jose has not lost in regulation over its last 24 games at HP

Pavilion, one shy of the NHL record. With 45 points, the Sharks

are off to the best start in league history after 26 contests.

Captain Rick Nash and Fredrik Modin tallied for the Blue

Jackets, who were playing the first contest of a three-game road

trip.

With the game knotted at 2-2, Vlasic received a pass from fellow

blue-liner Dan Boyle in the slot and fired a slap shot. Rookie

goaltender Steve Mason made the save, but Thornton got his stick

on the rebound and knocked it into the net at 7:41 of the final

session for the game-winner.

"We give the pucks to our forwards and they put it in the net,"

Vlasic said. "You do that, you will get assists, and that's

what happened."

"Our guys put a really good 60-minute effort in," said Mason,

who made 19 saves. "I think we deserved a better fate. The

guys played really good in front of me."

The Blue Jackets had one last chance to the tie the game after

Vlasic was whistled for a delay-of-game penalty with 38 seconds

remaining. But Nabokov made a pair of brilliant saves in the

closing seconds to notch his 15th win.

"On the ice, it's easier," Nabokov said. "We just react to what

happens in front of us. I've watched from the press box and

it's much more nerve-wracking from there."

Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock was reluctant to talk after the

defeat, pausing only long enough for a couple of words.

"We didn't outwork the goalie, that's the bottom line," he said.

"We had a chance to win the game, (but) we didn't outwork the

goalie."

While Columbus never has earned a regulation victory in San

Jose, the team looked determined to end that slump in the first

period.

"We have to give them credit," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said.

"They came to play. They are a big, strong team, they got pucks

behind us, and I didn't think we were as prepared as we needed

to be."

Nash's wrist shot from the doorstep deflected off Boyle's stick

and past Nabokov with 3:22 left in the session for a 1-0 lead.

"In the first period, we were all over them," Nash said. "We

outshot them by a good margin (14-4). Our defense played good.

Special teams was the difference. (At) 5-on-5, we were all over

them."

The Sharks evened it with 5:03 remaining in the second session,

three seconds before an interference penalty on Columbus' Jakub

Voracek was due to expire.

Marleau received the puck in the slot and wristed a shot that

was blocked by defenseman Jan Hejda. Marleau managed to control

the rebound and knocked it over the left shoulder of Mason for

his 12th goal.

The tally was Marleau's franchise-high 76th career power-play

goal and 250th of his career.

Blue Jackets left wing Jason Chimera was whistled for delay of

game after flipping the puck over the glass with nine seconds

remaining in the second, and the Sharks wasted no time taking

advantage in the third.

Vlasic's slap shot was stopped by Mason, but the rebound went

directly to Roenick, who handled it cleanly and wristed it past

the goaltender from the doorstep 44 seconds into the final

session to give San Jose a 2-1 edge.

Columbus answered back, tying the game less than three minutes

later when Modin picked up the puck in the corner and went right

around Roenick and toward the net before beating Nabokov for his

fourth goal of the season.

"When they went up 2-1, we showed a lot of character to come

back and tie it," Nash said. "When they got the third one, we

had a lot of chances to close the deal and tie it again, but

they showed why they're the best team in the league."

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