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San Jose spoils Ron Wilson's return to Shark Tank with 5-2 win over Leafs

NHL.com @NHL

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Joe Thornton had a goal and three assists in San Jose's fantastic first period, and the Sharks looked sharp in front of former coach Ron Wilson during their eighth straight victory, 5-2 over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night.

Devin Setoguchi, Dan Boyle and Marc-Edouard Vlasic also scored in the first 17:07 for the Sharks (21-3-1), who matched the best start in NHL history through 25 games with yet another one-sided win at the Shark Tank. The Montreal Canadiens also had 43 points through 25 games in the 1943-44 season, going 20-2-3.

Evgeni Nabokov stopped 29 shots and Joe Pavelski added a short-handed goal in the third period as the Sharks improved to 13-0-1 at home under rookie head coach Todd McLellan, who replaced Wilson during the summer. San Jose, which has earned a point in 23 straight regular-season games at the always-raucous Tank, is the only NHL team without a home loss in regulation.

The Sharks haven't lost at all since Nov. 11, when Nashville won at San Jose in overtime.

Wilson, the winningest coach in Sharks history, essentially got the welcome he expected from the talented team he left behind when he was fired last May after San Jose's third straight second-round playoff exit in his 4 1/2 seasons. McLellan and new defencemen Rob Blake, Boyle and Brad Lukowich have propelled the Sharks to new heights, but Wilson knows these wins won't matter much if San Jose has another post-season flop.

Wilson and assistant coaches Tim Hunter and Rob Zettler got a standing ovation when they appeared on the scoreboard early in the game, but Toronto's numerous Bay Area fans and new general manager Brian Burke had little else to cheer.

Nikolai Kulemin and Niklas Hagman scored for the Maple Leafs, and former Sharks goalie Vesa Toskala made 25 saves after giving up a soft goal to Setoguchi just 75 seconds in. Toronto had won consecutive games for just the third time all season after beating the Kings 3-1 Monday night.

Setoguchi scored his 13th goal when Toskala botched an easy stop on the second-year player's chip shot at the net, but Toskala had little chance moments later when Pavelski's hard shot off the boards landed on top of the Toronto net and bounced behind the goalie into the crease. Thornton tucked it home as Toskala's mask came off while trying to stop it.

After Boyle scored from the slot with 4:01 left in the period, Vlasic added a power-play goal 68 seconds later on a sublime no-look pass from Thornton, who had four points in a period for the third time in his career. It was the 20th four-point game of the 2006 MVP's career.

Kulemin finally answered for Toronto midway through the second period when sloppy Sharks defence left him alone near the net, but Pavelski added his short-handed goal early in the third on a 2-on-1 break with Milan Michalek. Hagman scored in the final minute.

Notes: Toronto RW Jamal Mayers missed his first game of the season after breaking his hand on the post Monday night in Los Angeles while trying to help Toskala. ... Sharks RW Jonathan Cheechoo, who has just four goals in 19 games, missed his second straight game due to an upper-body injury. ... San Jose C Riley Armstrong made his home debut after getting called up to the NHL last weekend before the Sharks' win at Phoenix.

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