SAN JOSE, Calif. -- If Joe Thornton keeps this up, he will quickly shed any lingering disappointment about being traded.
He certainly made a memorable first splash in the Shark Tank.
Thornton assisted on his new team's first goal, then scored later in the opening period to lead the San Jose Sharks to their third straight victory in his home debut, 5-3 over the Atlanta Thrashers on Tuesday night.
Thornton had a pair of assists in each of his first two games with the Sharks and already has six points for rejuvenated San Jose since being acquired last Wednesday from Boston in a blockbuster deal that sent Marco Sturm, Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau to the Bruins.
"We're 3-0 and scored 15 goals since we picked up Thornton," Sharks coach Ron Wilson said. "It's kind of nice the things you were hoping would happen with the trade have."
Thornton passed to Jonathan Cheechoo 2:56 into the game for a power-play goal and Cheechoo's 10th score of the season. Then Scott Thornton -- Joe's cousin -- hit Joe Thornton for a goal with a two-man advantage 6:40 into the first period.
The crowd went wild after Scott Thornton pulled goaltender Michael Garnett to his right side and quickly passed to Joe Thornton, who tapped the puck in from close range.
"Scotty just kind of slipped it over to me and there was an open net," Joe Thornton said. "It's nice to find the back of the net in the first home game. It's nice how the fans welcomed me and the city. That gave me a boost to start the game."
After Cheechoo's opening goal, the Sharks found the net again 70 seconds later on Rob Davison's first goal of the year. Davison took a pass from Alyn McCauley, who extended his point streak to five games. McCauley also assisted on Tom Preissing's second-period score.
Joe Thornton received a roaring ovation when the starting lineups were announced -- and after this performance, everything points to the soft-spoken center being a huge hit in his new home. He is quickly providing a glimpse of what could be a promising run with him leading San Jose's offense. The 26-year-old former No. 1 draft pick is known for his superior vision on the ice.
He made a quick curtain call after being announced as player of the game, much to the joy of the 15,812 fans.
"He's a playmaker," Wilson said before the game. "He makes others around him better."
The Sharks had lost five straight at home, but Thornton helped San Jose to its first victory on their own ice since a 3-2 overtime win over Nashville on Nov. 2.
Sharks general manager Doug Wilson first saw Joe Thornton during the world juniors tournament in 1997, when Wilson was on Canada's player selection committee.
"It was a lasting impression," Wilson said between the first and second periods Tuesday. "We're trying to put all the pieces together to win a Stanley Cup. ... The thing that excites me is to get a guy who has accomplished what he's accomplished, I think his best hockey is ahead of him. When this came available, it's rare you get a guy who's in his prime. To be a championship team, you have to be dominant down the middle."
Nils Ekman also scored for the Sharks, faking out Garnett and shooting around him into the corner of the net for his fourth goal.
Brad Larsen scored his second of the season for Atlanta 5:37 in on an assist from J.P. Vigier, and Marian Hossa scored twice for the Thrashers, including a short-handed goal early in the second period in the only meeting of the season between the clubs.
Atlanta, playing on back-to-back nights after losing Monday at Phoenix, lost its fifth straight and has been outscored 20-9 during the skid.
"That 5-on-3 in the first, that put us in the hole immediately," Thrashers coach Bob Hartley said. "We didn't have enough going for us in the third and we couldn't cash in on any chances all night. We ran into discipline problems in the first, and that just took our momentum away."
The Thrashers have beaten the Sharks just once in nine meetings, in overtime during the 2002-03 season.
Coincidentally, the last time the Sharks scored three goals at home in the first period was Jan. 10, 2004, against Atlanta
|Joe Thornton is fitting in fine with the Sharks as he has six points in his first three games. (AP)|
|San Jose (11-12-4) «||3||2||0||5|
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|02:56||Power Play - Jonathan Cheechoo (10), Slap Shot - Assists: Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau|
|04:06||Rob Davison, Wrist Shot - Assists: Alyn McCauley and Patrick Marleau|
|05:37||Brad Larsen (2), Slap Shot - Assists: J.P. Vigier and Greg de Vries|
|13:20||Power Play - Joe Thornton (10), Slap Shot - Assists: Scott Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo|
|01:23||Short - Marian Hossa (13), Wrist Shot - Assist: Marc Savard|
|08:06||Nils Ekman (4), Wrist Shot - Assists: Josh Langfeld and Scott Hannan|
|12:04||Tom Preissing (5), Slap Shot - Assists: Alyn McCauley and Patrick Marleau|
|19:04||Marian Hossa (14), Wrist Shot - Assist: Ilya Kovalchuk|
|01:57||Modry: Tripping - 2 min.|
|12:50||Aubin: Interference - 2 min.|
|12:50||Boulton: Tripping - 2 min.|
|19:54||Holik: Slashing - 2 min.|
|13:39||Smith: Holding - 2 min.|
|02:21||Langfeld: Hooking - 2 min.|
|09:26||Goc: Too Many Men on the Ice(bench) - 2 min.|
|16:10||Michalek: Hooking - 2 min.|
|16:47||Savard: Hooking - 2 min.|
|SHOTS ON GOAL|
|Attendance - 15812|
|Game Time - 60:00|
|Referees - Greg Kimmerly, Kelly Sutherland|
|Line Judges - Ryan Galloway, Vaughan Rody|