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Thornton's home debut a win
3rd straight 5 goal game for SJ
12/6/05 - by Mike Lee

Recently acquired centerman Joe Thornton made his debut at the Tank a memorable one. Thornton scored his first goal as a Shark and added an assist in a 5-3 romp over the visiting Atlanta Thrashers on Tuesday night. The Sharks continue to fire on all cylinders since pulling off what is arguably the biggest trade in franchise history. San Jose has scored five goals in all three games since the trade. Captain Patrick Marleau also continued his tear with three assists, giving him nine points in that span.

Unlike the dark days of November, the Sharks are pouncing on the opposition early and that trend continued against the struggling Thrashers. Thornton setup Jonathan Cheechoo's 10th goal of the season three minutes into the game with a backhand pass that Cheechoo ripped past rookie goaltender Michael Garnett.

Defenseman Rob Davison scored his 2nd career goal a minute later with a blast from the left point. Marleau won a draw in the Thrashers zone and pulled the puck back to Alyn McCauley who promptly tipped it to Davison. Garnett was partially screened on the play, allowing the shot to find the back of the net for a 2-0 Sharks lead.

Atlanta answered back at 5:37 of the opening period with a Brad Larsen goal. The Thrashers left wing ripped a one timer from the left circle that Sharks goaltender Vesa Toskala could only wave at.

The Thrashers would help San Jose extend its lead later in the period when Serge Aubin and Eric Boulton were sent off simultaneously for separate infractions. Thornton would bag his first goal in teal on the ensuing 5-on-3. Cheechoo reciprocated some of his recent goal scoring fortune by starting Thornton's scoring sequence with a shot on goal from point blank range. Garnett appeared to smother Cheechoo's shot, but Thornton's cousin Scott Thornton chipped the puck out from under Garnett's pads while the Thrasher's goaltender was laid out on the ice.

Thornton gathered the loose puck while parked outside the right post and stuffed home his 10th of the season into an empty net.

San Jose would commit its lone gaff at the start of the 2nd period while on the power play. Marc Savard defelected a pass out of the Thrashers zone and Marian Hossa beat Kyle McLaren to the puck at the Sharks blueline. McLaren fell after getting his skates tangled with Hossa, allowing the Thrashers wing to spring free. Hossa had Toskala dead to rights and promptly roofed a breakaway shot to cut San Jose's lead to 3-2.

Nils Ekman would then break an 18-game goal drought with one of the prettiest moves of the year. The Sharks winger took a pass from Josh Langfeld at the left dot and deeked Jaroslav Modry with a move toward the slot. Ekman then backhanded a shot over Garnett's shoulder for this 4th goal of the year.

Tom Preissing added an insurance goal at 12:04 of the 2nd period with a slapper from the high slot and Hossa added his second of the evening with just under a minute remaining in the period.

Atlanta had an opportunity to cut further in to the Sharks lead in the 3rd period on two power play chances. The closest came while Scott Thornton was serving a bench minor for too many men in the ice midway through the period. Ilya Kovalchuk had Toskala beat in close, but the Sharks goaltender robbed the young Russian with a wicked glove save.


Rookie defenseman Doug Murray was a one man wrecking ball with several huge hits in the game. On one play he caught Ronald Petrovicky with a check that sent the Thrashers winger to the ice with an apparent arm injury. After flailing on the ice for several minutes, Petrovicky skated to the Atlanta bench and resumed playing several minutes later.

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1 2 3 T
ATL 1 2 0 3
SJ 3 2 0 5
1st period - 1, San Jose, Cheechoo 10 (Thornton, Marleau), 2:56, (pp). 2, San Jose, Davison 1 (McCauley, Marleau), 4:06. 3, Atlanta, Larsen 2 (Vigier, de Vries), 5:37. 4, San Jose, Thornton 10 (Thornton, Preissing), 13:20, (pp).
2nd period - 5, Atlanta, Hossa 13 (Savard), 1:23, (sh). 6, San Jose, Ekman 4 (Langfeld, Hannan), 8:06. 7, San Jose, Preissing 5 (McCauley, Marleau), 12:04. 8, Atlanta, Hossa 14 (Kovalchuk), 19:04.
3rd period - None.
1st period - Modry, ATL (tripping), 1:57; Aubin, ATL (interference), 12:50; Boulton, ATL (tripping), 12:50; Holik, ATL (slashing), 19:54.
2nd period - Smith, SJS (holding), 13:39.
3rd period - Langfeld, SJS (holding), 2:21; Bench, SJS, served by Thornton (too many men), 9:26; Michalek, SJS (hooking), 16:10; Savard, ATL (hooking), 16:47.
  Shots Saves
ATL - Garnett 26 21
SJ - Toskala 25 22
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
ATL 4 8 13 25
SJ 11 7 8 26
Power Play Conversion
ATL 0 of 4
SJ 2 of 5
3 Stars of the Game
Patrick Marleau
Marian Hossa
Joe Thornton
Referees: Greg Kimmerly, Kelly Sutherland. Linesmen: Ryan Galloway, Vaughan Rody.

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