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Joe Thornton celebrates new contract with OT goal that leads Sharks to 3-2 win over Wild

Sunday, 01.26.2014 / 1:25 AM / News

The Canadian Press

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Joe Thornton celebrates new contract with OT goal that leads Sharks to 3-2 win over Wild

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Joe Thornton scored his second goal of the game with 1:30 remaining in overtime to lead the San Jose Sharks to their sixth straight win, 3-2 over the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night.

Patrick Marleau also scored as the two longtime Sharks shined one day after signing three-year contract extensions. Antti Niemi made 20 saves and Joe Pavelski and Matt Irwin had two assists apiece.

Matt Cooke and Keith Ballard scored for the Wild, who built an early lead on the opener of a four-game road trip but still lost for the ninth time in their past 10 trips to San Jose. Darcy Kuemper made 29 saves as Minnesota lost for just the fourth time in 12 games this month.

Thornton and Pavelski combined on the game-winning play by causing a turnover at the blue line. Pavelski then fed Thornton, who beat Kuemper with a wrist shot from the top of the circle to cap the rally from a 2-0 deficit.

The Wild struck first on a nifty play by Cooke midway through the first period. Cooke deflected Thornton's cross-ice pass to Brad Stuart in the neutral zone. Cooke then beat Stuart to the loose puck and skated in on Niemi before beating him with a forehand for his eighth goal.

They added onto the lead early in the second when Mikael Granlund fed Ballard for a one-timer that beat Niemi. It was Ballard's first goal since Oct. 6, 2011, for Vancouver against Pittsburgh, ending a drought of 114 games without a goal.

Minnesota dominated the opening half of the second period, limiting San Jose to one shot in the first 11-plus minutes before Thornton and Marleau delivered a day after signing their contract extensions.

Thornton struck first in a bit of a role reversal as Joe Pavelski fed him for a one-timer that he knocked past Kuemper on a knuckler. Thornton had provided the assists on many of Pavelski's 19 goals in the past 21 games.

Just 49 seconds later, Marleau scored his 22nd of the season when Tommy Wingels fanned on the original shot but still managed to get the puck to Marleau, who deflected it past Kuemper to tie the game and force Minnesota to use a timeout.

NOTES: Minnesota F Jason Pominville got his 500th career point with an assist on Ballard's goal. ... San Jose juggled its top two lines the second half of the game with Matt Nieto playing with Thornton and Pavelski and Brent Burns moving to a wing with Marleau and Wingels. ... Sharks F Mike Brown got into a fight with Wild D Clayton Stoner in the first period. ... Wild F Jason Zucker, who has four goals since being called up Jan. 1, was scratched and Mike Rupp suited up for the first time this month.

Quote of the Day

Just the feel for the direction they were headed and what they're trying to do, it just felt that this is a really good thing for this organization. They've got the pieces. We can put something together and go on a run or two and be together for a while, and I'm really excited about that opportunity. The team we have here has an opportunity to win, and that's the most attractive thing.

— Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen on why he decided to sign with the Capitals