San Jose Sharks right wing Joel Ward (42) is congratulated by his teammates after scoring a goal against the New York Rangers during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 19, 2016, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Tony Avelar
March 19, 2016

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) For more than 40 minutes, San Jose struggled to get anything past Henrik Lundqvist. Joe Thornton then knocked in a rebound that opened the floodgates for three goals in a quick burst that turned a tight game into a comfortable win.

Thornton broke a tie early in the third before Joel Ward got his second goal of the day to help send the Sharks to a 4-1 victory over Lundqvist and the New York Rangers on Saturday.

''I liked our game through 40 minutes,'' coach Peter DeBoer said. ''I thought if we stuck with it, kept pushing and kept pushing that eventually we would find a crack and I think that happened.''

Lundqvist stopped 42 of the first 43 shots he faced before allowing three to Thornton, Ward and Joe Pavelski on four shots in a span of 3:20 that sent the Sharks to their third straight home win. Tomas Hertl had three assists and Martin Jones made 25 saves to help San Jose move within a point of second-place Anaheim in the Pacific Division.

''We definitely stuck with it,'' Pavelski said. ''It's a game where you look up at the end of two periods and we got (37) shots or whatever it's at, tied game. Sometimes those games can go the other way if you get a hot goalie. It's great to see guys come out and establish that body position.''

Dan Boyle scored the lone goal for the Rangers, who stayed in the game for two periods because of Lundqvist's brilliance before falling apart in the third. Lundqvist made 43 saves before being pulled after the fourth goal.

San Jose outshot New York 52-26 for the game.

''It was ugly as it's ever been,'' Rangers defenseman Marc Staal said. ''That type of game like this at this time of year is garbage. We have to be better. We're just trying to make plays that aren't there. We aren't making plays when we are there. We're fighting it all the way.''

San Jose finally broke through early in the third when Thornton sent Hertl in on a long pass and Hertl drove to the net. Lundqvist stopped Hertl's initial shot but Thornton knocked in the rebound for his 17th goal.

Just 1:49 later, Patrick Marleau fed Ward for a one-timer that trickled through Lundqvist for his second goal of the game. Pavelski ended Lundqvist's night with his 33rd goal of the season.

''It was a tough game to play, so many big chances,'' Lundqvist said. ''There's only one way to win hockey games, is to play hard and smart but if you are missing that a little bit it's going to be tough against a good team.''

The game started with good pace, with both teams getting chances early but no one beating either goalie. The teams then traded goals in the second period that was controlled by the Sharks, who had 21 shots but only one goal against Lundqvist.

San Jose struck first thanks to their second power-play unit when Joonas Donskoi fed Ward from behind the net with a no-look pass. Ward then one-timed it into the top corner.

''You need to have two good units, especially in the playoffs and down the stretch,'' Ward said. ''If we keep chipping away and relieve a little bit of pressure off the big guys, it gives us a chance to win a lot of games.''

Lundqvist did a good job keeping the deficit at one, making strong stops against Melker Karlsson, Hertl and then a breakaway attempt by Brent Burns.

The Rangers then got the equalizer late when Boyle took a feed from Derick Brassard on a 2-on-1 and beat Jones with a backhander.

NOTES: Boyle has now scored against all 30 teams. ... Sharks D Marc-Edouard Vlasic is day to day after leaving Thursday's game against Arizona with an injury. Dylan DeMelo was called up from the AHL to take his place. ... San Jose F Matt Nieto also is out with a hand injury after blocking a shot against the Coyotes and was replaced by Tommy Wingels, who has been out since Feb. 18 with a shoulder injury. ... Marleau played his 1,400th career game.

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