Cheechoo scored three goals, Michalek had one and set up two others, and Thornton had three assists in the Sharks’ 5-1 victory Thursday night that ended the Thrashers’ franchise-record, home-winning streak at seven.
“I bring speed, Joe brings the pass and Jonathan is the shooter,” said Michalek, who has 23 goals, including four in his last three games, and a total of 60 points.
“My linemates were doing a great job. I like the way our line is made up right now,” Cheechoo said.
Atlanta coach Bob Hartley was also impressed.
“Thornton, Cheechoo and the bunch gave us quite a display of hockey,” he said. “We knew how dominant they could be, but at the same time, we just didn’t give ourselves a chance to win.”
It was the only game between the teams this season.
“We don’t get a chance to play all the Eastern teams, but I know the top five or six teams in the West are big, fast and physical and it seems a lot of the Eastern teams struggle with that,” Sharks coach Ron Wilson said.
“They dominated us,” Atlanta forward Keith Tkachuk said. “That’s the bottom line. They were too talented, too big and too fast.”
San Jose, which has won seven of eight, also got a goal from Bill Guerin, his 34th, for a 4-1 lead that ended the night for beleaguered goalie Kari Lehtonen with 5:31 remaining in the second period. San Jose peppered him with 23 shots.
Cheechoo made it 5-1 with 2:46 left in the period, beating Atlanta backup Johan Hedberg for his 30th goal and 61st point. It was his second hat trick of the season and seventh of his career.
Atlanta, which had won eight of 10, took a 1-0 lead on Pascal Dupuis’ goal at 7:53 of the first period against Vesa Toskala.
San Jose grabbed the lead later in the period on goals by Cheechoo and Michalek. Thornton, the NHL scoring champion last season, assisted on both. He has 102 points this season, the third time he has gone over the century mark, and is second to Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby.
Cheechoo scored his second goal 12 minutes into the second period for a 3-1 lead. Thornton and Michalek drew assists.
San Jose, second in the Pacific Division, has the fifth best record in the Pacific Division, and is a virtual lock for a Western Conference playoff spot with seven games remaining.
The Thrashers, who are in good shape to make the playoffs for the first time in their seven-year history, lead the Southeast Division and are third in the Eastern Conference with seven games left.
Notes: Michalek has four goals in three games and 14 points in the last six. … Thornton has 20 points in nine games. … The first penalties of the game came with 5:25 left in the second period when Atlanta’s Jon Sim and San Jose’s Mark Bell fought. Sim injured an orbital bone and didn’t return.