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The other Thornton delivers
Sharks erase 2-0 Kings lead to win
1/7/06 - by Mike Lee

After losing to the Los Angeles Kings in Southern California back on December 26th, the Sharks figured they would need to use the body more against the Kings the next time the two teams squared off. They used that approach to knock off the Kings at HP Pavilion on Saturday night in comeback fashion. Scott Thornton scored two goals to lead the Sharks to a 3-2 win, and gain on every other Pacific Division team in the standings.

In their last meeting the Kings took advantage of power play opportunities, including two 5-on-3 situations to jump out to an early lead. The same situation played itself out on Saturday, with the Kings jumping out to a 2-0 lead early on.

After committing an infraction for too many men on the ice, Mark Smith would be whistled for hooking just 20 seconds later, giving the Kings ample time to score on the two-man advantage. Lubomir Visnovsky would convert a minute later to give the Kings the early lead.

Steve Avery would beat Evgeni Nabokov with a put-back shot as Smith was stepping back on to the ice, and the Kings looked as if they were on their way to extending their three-game winning streak.

"It's been the usual for us to go down 5-on-3 lately, and we have to be careful, because it's going to cost us," Nabokov said. "I felt pretty good, but the penalties have to stop."

San Jose would buckle down in the period, and actually shift the momentum after being out-shot 7-2 to start the game. The Sharks would eventually outshoot Los Angeles 13-12 by periods end. One of those shots was Thornton's 7th goal of the season.

The veteran forward would grab a rebound in the slot after a wild scrum and lift the puck over a sprawled out Mathieu Garon, who had made the initial save on Alyn McCauley's scoring attempt.

"They have a great offense, and it showed," Garon said. "They come hard at you. We knew even with our early lead that it wouldn't be good enough. They have a great power play unit. We knew coming in that we couldn't take too many penalties, or that would hurt us."

Nils Ekman would inspire the defense with a big open ice hit late in the period. Kyle McLaren and Doug Murray would take notice and deliver several shots, including another highlight reel hit by McLaren late in the game as the Kings tried to overcome a one-goal deficit.

That deficit came courtesy of Thornton's second goal of the night. He uncorked a shot from 50 feet out in the high slot, beating Garon just inside the right post at 15:39 of the 2nd period.

Patrick Marleau had tied the game five minutes earlier on a power play, while Mattias Norstrom was serving a hooking penalty. Jonathan Cheechoo setup Marleau's goal by carrying the puck behind the Kings goal, then slipping a pass to Marleau who was parked just inside the left circle. The Sharks captain one-timed a shot that caught the inside of the net behind the right post as Garon tried sliding to his right to cutoff the left side of the net.

San Jose laid the body on the Kings in the 3rd period to repel the Kings. McLaren, Murray and Thornton would finish the game with five hits apiece. San Jose out-hit the Kings 25-20 and moved two points closer to the rest of the Pacific Division pack.

"They're a good team, and they're going to play hard, but I don't think they took control," Kings coach Andy Murray said of the Sharks. "We didn't sit back all night. We went after them and played hard. I like our effort."

Notes:

Josh Gorges recorded his first NHL point with an assist on Thornton's game winning goal. Gorges was lucky to be around to setup the goal after crashing head first into the boards in the 1st period. He would be helped off the ice and returned in the 2nd period.

The bandwagoneers were out in droves on Saturday night, as the Tank hosted one of the largest contingents of Kings fans in quite some time. The team's third best start in franchise history probably has something to do with that.



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Scoring
1 2 3 T
LA 2 0 0 2
SJ 1 2 0 3
1st period - 1, Los Angeles, Visnovsky 12 (Conroy, Cammalleri), 10:22, (pp). 2, Los Angeles, Avery 10 (Visnovsky, Frolov), 11:11. 3, San Jose, Thornton 7 (McCauley, Goc), 15:11.
2nd period - 4, San Jose, Marleau 16 (Cheechoo, Thornton), 10:20, (pp). 5, San Jose, Thornton 8 (Dimitrakos, Gorges), 15:39.
3rd period - None.
Penalties
1st period - Kostopoulos, LOS (tripping), 7:26; Bench, SJS, served by Ehroff (too many men), 8:49; Smith, SJS (hooking), 9:09; Stevenson, SJS (tripping), 17:01.
2nd period - Thornton, SJS (cross checking), 3:22; Norstrom, LOS (hooking), 10:01; Stevenson, SJS (high sticking), 10:49; Kostopoulos, LOS (tripping), 13:23; Cheechoo, SJS (tripping), 16:41.
3rd period - Langfeld, SJS (hooking), 3:16; Kostopoulos, LOS (tripping), 9:38; Conroy, LOS (hooking), 17:13.
Goaltending
  Shots Saves
LA - Garon 25 22
SJ - Nabokov 29 27
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
LA 12 10 7 29
SJ 13 9 3 25
Power Play Conversion
LA 1 of 7
SJ 1 of 5
3 Stars of the Game
Scott Thornton
Alyn McCauley
Lubomir Visnovsky
Attendence
17,496
Officials
Referees: Michael McGeough, Dave Jackson. Linesmen: Brian Murphy, Jay Sharrers.

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