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Big 3 have big night at Devils expense
4th career hat trick for Thornton in blowout
10/27/10 - By Mike Lee -

Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley, the Sharks Big 3, put on a clinic on Wednesday night at HP Pavilion. Squaring off against future Hall-of-Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur, the trio combined for five goals and 8 assists in a 5-2 white-washing of the visiting New Jersey Devils. After starting the season skating on separate lines, Sharks head coach Todd McLellan teamed the three players up in response to the lack-luster performance in Calgary on Sunday night.

The dividends were huge, as the trio took advantage of a Devils defense that included three rookies that had 29 games of combined NHL experience. They would jump out to a 3-0 lead in the opening period and cruise from their.

"It was a real impressive performance when it comes to leadership," McLellan said of his top line.

Thornton was the star of the show, recording his fourth career hat trick and a five point night. The big centerman opened the game's scoring at 9:57 of the opening period with a sweeping shot from the left dot that beat Devils future hall-of-fame goaltender Martin Brodeur. Thornton took a feed from Heatley as he skated into the Devils zone and whipped home his 3rd goal of the season.

Marleau would score his own goal 79 seconds later on a wrap-around chance. Heatley and Thornton were working the puck along the end boards, when Marleau swooped in and scooped up the puck and slipped it around the right post.

A strong cycle in the offensive zone would power the third goal of the period for the Sharks. Jason Demers would get on the score sheet by earning the secondary assist on Thornton's 2nd of the night. The defenseman would throw a puck to the slot, which deflected to the right corner. Marleau would track the puck down and throw it toward the crease where Thornton was parked for the redirect into the New Jersey net. Brodeur argued that he was interfered with by Thornton, but to no avail.

"Again, we started out good," said Devils head coach John McLean. "We were getting the puck deep, then four turnovers and they get the first goal off it. It can be done. We can get the puck in deep then go to work on it. I mean, that's what San Jose did. That's what their big line did all night. They got the pucks down low then they got the goals off it."

New Jersey would get on the board 3:03 into the 2nd period on a fluke goal. Devils rookie defenseman Mathew Corrente sent a dump in to the right corner, drawing Sharks goaltender Antero Niittymaki behind his own goal to intercept the winding puck. The puck kicked out to the front of the wide open net, where David Clarkson easily deposited his 1s goal of the season.

They say that bad breaks even themselves out over the course of a season. It took the Sharks 14 minutes. The boards would play a role again late in the period when an identical deflection landed on Thornton's stick with Brodeur in no-man's land behind his net. Thornton simply tapped home his 3rd of the game and the hats rained down on the HP Pavilion ice.

Heatley got in on the act by redirecting a pass from Thornton at 6:47 of the 3rd period, after the centerman sent a bullet from the bottom of the right circle. Heatley slipped past Henrik Tallinder on his way to the left post where he received Thornton's 30-foot feed.

The Devils would score a late power play goal with 5 minutes to play. Andy Greene sent a deflection past Niittymaki after Danus Zubrus put a shot off the Sharks netminder from in tight. It was the first Devils goal with the man-advantage on the road this season after failing to convert on their first 19 chances away from the Meadowlands.

McLellan made it clear that this was simply a stepping stone to his team's development.

"We are allowed to enjoy the hard fought win, which is what we are going to do tonight, and tomorrow we are going to get back to work," McLellan added after the game.

Game Notes:

Marleau's first assist gave him 700 career points.



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Scoring
1 2 3 T
NJ 0 1 1 2
SJ 3 1 1 5
1st period - 1, Thornton 3 (Heatley, Marleau), 9:57. 2, SJ, Marleau 3 (Thornton, Heatley), 11:16. 3, Thornton 4 (Marleau, Demers), 18:59.
2nd period - 4, NJ, Clarkson (Corrente, Tallinder), 3:06. 5, SJ, Thornton 5 (Heatley), 16:55, (pp).
3rd period - 6, SJ, Heatley 3 (Thornton, Marleau), 6:47. 7, NJ, Greene 1 (Zubrus, Parise), 14:22, (pp).
Penalties
1st period - Nichol, SJ (slashing), 5:40; Mair, NJ (fighting major), 10:04; Mayers, SJ (fighting major), 10:04; Wallin, SJ (interference), 13:03; Tallinder, NJ (hooking), 15:39.
2nd period - Mayers, SJ (hooking), 7:10; Bench, NJ (too many men), 8:29; Corrente, NJ (interference), 15:56; Corrente, NJ (fighting major), 19:29; Clowe, SJ (fighting major), 19:29.
3rd period - Clowe, SJ (hooking), 9:05; Heatley, SJ (holding), 13:54; Corrente, NJ (unsporstmanlike conduct), 15:22; Corrente, NJ (10 min misconduct), 15:22; Corrente, NJ (game misconduct), 15:22; Murray, SJ (high sticking), 15:22.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
NJ - Brodeur 39 34
SJ - Niittymaki 29 27
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
NJ 11 10 8 29
SJ 17 13 9 39
Power Play Conversion
NJ 1 of 5
SJ 1 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
Joe Thornton
Dany Heatley
Patrick Marleau
Attendence
17,562
Officials
Referees: Kowal, Pollack. Linesmen: Heyer, Sharrers.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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