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Avs Fall to Sharks, 5-2

by Staff Writer / Colorado Avalanche
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - Joe Thornton lost three teeth but he never lost his sense of humor.

He took a stick in his mouth in the third period, but didn't miss a shift, scoring two goals to help the San Jose Sharks end a four-game losing streak with a 5-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night.

"It was only three but it could have been five" teeth, Thornton said. "Obviously (the officials) can't see everything,"

"I have to go back out and look for them."

Scott Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Jonathan Cheechoo each added a goal and the Sharks won their sixth at home in seven tries.

Joe Sakic and Alex Tanguay scored for the Avalanche, who lost for the fifth time in six road games.

Nils Ekman recorded a career-high four assists in his first multi-point game of the season.

"I'm happy with what I did today and I'm planning on making the most of these opportunities," Ekman said. "We all want to be important and make a difference. That is what's fun."

Colorado has allowed five goals in three of its last four games, and has given up three or more in 10 of its last 11.

"They capitalized on our mistakes and just outplayed us," Tanguay said. "There was so much open ice, we just needed to play better."

Sakic put the Avalanche on the board first with his 17th goal of the season. On a power play, Brett Clark took a shot from the point which bounced off the pads of Sharks goalie Vesa Toskala. Sakic punched in the rebound with 16 minutes left in the first period.

Sakic has a point in six of his last seven games and scored his third goal in the last three. It was also his 59th career point in 43 games against the Sharks.

The Sharks tied the game at 1 with 6 seconds left in the first on a power-play goal from Joe Thornton. Ekman punched at the puck and it floated free off Avalanche goalie David Aebischer, giving Thornton an open shot into the net for his first goal in seven games.

Thornton has scored 11 times in 13 games with his new team.

Aebischer faced 43 shots, saving 38. The Sharks took more than 40 shots in a game for the first time since Nov. 19.

"(Aebischer) has nothing to be ashamed about," Tanguay said. "It was our fault."

Thornton scored his second goal in the first four minutes of the second period. Following a big hit from San Jose defender Rob Davison which sprung the puck loose, Ekman sent a cross-ice pass to Thornton, who flipped the puck past Aebischer as he was falling down.

"It was one of our best efforts," said Cheechoo, who had 13 goals in December, one off the team record. "We've struggled in the last four or five games so it was nice to come back like this."

Tanguay's goal with 14:19 left in the second tied the game at 2. Ian Laperriere's pass led Tanguay perfectly, and he beat Toskala 1-on-1.

Scott Thornton put the Sharks up 3-2 with 5:44 left in the second period. Stepping in front of Brett McLean along the boards, he intercepted a pass by John-Michael Liles from behind the net and skated straight to the net, beating Aebischer to the right side.

Marleau added a power-play goal with 17:44 remaining to play, and Cheechoo scored three minutes later.

Toskala has won three straight after losing his first four decisions.

Notes: Avalanche LW Antti Laaksonen played in his 400th NHL game. ... Sharks RW Niko Dimitrakos was a scratch because of the flu. ... Colorado plays 10 of its 13 games in January at home. ... Sakic, who has not gone more than one game without a point, is within one of Guy Lafleur (560) for 18th on the career goals list. ... The Sharks improved to 2-6-1 against the Northwest Division. ... Colorado attempted just five shots in the second period. ... Sharks LW Ryan Clowe sat out the game after spraining an ankle during a postgame workout on Wednesday night.

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