Thornton pushes Sharks past Blue Jackets

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

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

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

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While Columbus never has earned a regulation victory in San
Jose, the team looked determined to end that slump in the first

“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

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.”