SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - 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 with 6:40 left in 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.
Notes: Joe Thornton, who is temporarily staying with his cousin and teammate, won't play against the Western Conference until Dec. 18 at Anaheim. The Sharks are in a stretch of four straight home games with Florida, Carolina and Washington up next. That's fine with the team's newest player. "It's nice," Joe Thornton said of California. "It's different waking up and seeing sunshine." ... Sharks G Evgeni Nabokov, who didn't win a home game all last month, was scratched because of a sore groin. ... Patrick Marleau has nine points in his last three games for San Jose - three straight three-point games. That matches a franchise record for most points in a three-game stretch, set by Kelly Kisio in December 1992.
|PPG - Jonathan Cheechoo (10) ASST: Joe Thornton (29), Patrick Marleau (19)|
1 - 0 SJS
|Rob Davison (1) ASST: Alyn McCauley (7), Patrick Marleau (20)|
2 - 0 SJS
|Brad Larsen (2) ASST: Jean-Pierre Vigier (2), Greg De Vries (13)|
2 - 1 SJS
|PPG - Joe Thornton (10) ASST: Scott Thornton (4), Jonathan Cheechoo (9)|
3 - 1 SJS
|SHG - Marian Hossa (13) ASST: Marc Savard (27)|
3 - 2 SJS
|Nisse Ekman (4) ASST: Josh Langfeld (5), Scott Hannan (3)|
4 - 2 SJS
|Tom Preissing (5) ASST: Alyn McCauley (8), Patrick Marleau (21)|
5 - 2 SJS
|Marian Hossa (14) ASST: Ilya Kovalchuk (19)|
5 - 3 SJS
|Jaroslav Modry Tripping against Mark Smith|
|Serge Aubin Interference|
|Eric Boulton Tripping|
|Bobby Holik Slashing against Kyle McLaren|
|Mark Smith Holding against Niclas Havelid|
|Josh Langfeld Hooking against Marc Savard|
|Scott Thornton Too many men/ice - bench|
|Milan Michalek Hooking against Serge Aubin|
|Marc Savard Hooking|