Joe Thornton is one of the best passers the game has ever seen, and he put his skill to good use in Game 4 with a great pass to Joe Pavelski for the second of the Sharks’ three power play goals Wednesday night.
San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski is one of the more underrated scorers in the league, and his four goals through four games in the first-round series against the rival Los Angeles Kings is proof of that. But in Game 4 Wednesday night, Pavelski scored a goal even the most stone-handed wannabe sniper couldn’t have missed, and it was all thanks to a great pass from Joe Thornton.
While the Sharks were on a power play midway through the second period, the puck was worked behind the net where Thornton set up shop. As Thornton moved out to the right side of the Kings’ net, Pavelski cut right down the middle of the ice, got his stick on the ice and gave Thornton a target to lay a perfect feed onto. Pavelski made no mistake, one-timing the puck past Los Angeles goaltender Jonathan Quick to give San Jose a 2-0 lead:
The angle of the pass from the right side of the net facing the Kings net makes Thornton’s pass even more impressive. The space he had to make his pass was minimal — Thornton had to avoid the back of the net and the oncoming stick of Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin — and yet he put it right in the center of Pavelski’s tape. That shouldn’t be all too surprising, however, considering Thornton has made a career of being one of the league’s premier setup men.
Thornton’s assist was the 78th playoff helper of his career, which moves him into a tie for 40th in NHL history. And while that may not seem too impressive, consider that Thornton has registered another 964 helpers and ranks 13th all-time in regular season assists. His assist total alone would put Thornton at 91st all-time in NHL scoring.
Following Pavelski’s goal, the Sharks would add another power play tally to take a 3-0 lead and survived a late-game scare to take home a 3-2 win over the Kings in Game 4 of the Western Conference quarter-final series. San Jose is now one win away from advancing to the second round for the first time since 2012-13.