Instant Replay: Thornton's OT goal extends streak to six

Instant Replay: Thornton's OT goal extends streak to six
January 25, 2014, 9:15 pm
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Joe Thornton reacts after scoring the game-winning goal in overtime to beat the Wild 3-2 on Saturday night. (AP)


SAN JOSE – Joe Thornton scored twice, including the game-winner in overtime, leading the Sharks to a 3-2 win over Minnesota on Saturday at SAP Center.

With one minute and 30 seconds to go in the extra session, Thornton released a slap shot from the top of the circle that beat Darcy Kuemper to the glove side for his eighth goal of the year.

The Sharks battled back from a 2-0 hole to force overtime.

Thornton’s first of the night cut the Wild lead to 2-1. Matt Irwin wrapped the puck around the wall to Joe Pavelski behind the goal, and Pavelski found Thornton in front. The captain didn’t get all of the shot attempt, but it fluttered over Darcy Kuemper’s shoulder at 11:12.

Less than a minute later, it was Marleau’s turn. Tommy Wingels was harassed by Kyle Brodziak on a rush, but managed to get enough of the puck in directing it towards Marleau, who tipped it in at 12:01. It was his 22nd of the season, placing him second on the team behind Pavelski.

The Sharks improved to 49-6-1 in games that Thornton and Marleau each score. Both franchise cornerstones were playing for the first time since signing nearly identical three-year contract extensions on Friday.

San Jose has won six games in a row, including the first three of a four-game homestand.

The Sharks had the early energy, registering five of the first six shots on goal, but the Wild struck first. Matt Cooke intercepted a Thornton pass in the neutral zone, sped around Brad Stuart, and beat Antti Niemi at 9:33.

That lead increased to 2-0 in the second period, when Keith Ballard was allowed to get open in the circle shortly after Niemi had trouble playing the puck behind the net. Mikael Granlund gained control of it behind the net before feeding an open Ballard, who scored his first goal since Oct. 6, 2011.

Brad Stuart threw one of the biggest hits of the season, leveling Nate Prosser into the boards at center ice with about five minutes to go in the second period. Earlier, Jason Demers and Zach Parise had a hard battle next to the Sharks’ goal, and Mike Brown and Clayton Stoner had an energetic fight in the first, with each throwing some heavy right hands.

The Sharks and Wild played the third and final game of their season series. Each team defended its home ice in the first two.

Special teams
Each team was 0-for-2 on the power play.

A Sharks power play at 5:26 of the third period, when Prosser was called for hooking, lasted all of four seconds. Demers received an interference minor just after the offensive zone faceoff.

In goal
Niemi picked up his 27th win, with 21 saves.

Despite getting his second straight shutout on Thursday against Winnipeg, Alex Stalock acted as Niemi’s backup for the game.

Kuemper made his seventh straight start, as Josh Harding remains out with an illness. He took the loss with 29 saves on 32 shots.

In the second period, Matt Nieto and Brent Burns switched lines. Nieto skated with Thornton and Pavelski, while Burns was with Marleau and Wingels.

There were no changes to the Sharks’ lineup from Thursday’s game, other than the starting goaltender.

Up next
The Sharks host the Los Angeles Kings on Monday, the first meeting between the rival clubs since Dustin Brown’s knee-on-knee hit of Tomas Hertl on Dec. 19. San Jose travels to Edmonton and Calgary for back-to-back games on Wednesday and Thursday, and host the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday, Feb. 1.