BOSTON (AP) -The Boston Bruins waited for the San Jose Sharks to come to town, wanting the opportunity to show they were the best team in the NHL.
They carried a lead into the third period and then watched the Sharks show just how they rose to the top of the Western Conference.
Patrick Marleau, Milan Michalek and former Boston captain Joe Thornton scored in a 6:16 span of the third period to rally the Sharks to a 5-2 victory over the Boston Bruins in a matchup of the NHL's top two teams on Tuesday night.
The Eastern Conference-leading Bruins, leading the league with 85 points, led 2-1 heading into the third period behind two first-period goals by Milan Lucic. Boston had been 26-0-2 when leading after 40 minutes.
"We were excited for this," Bruins center Marc Savard said of the only regular-season meeting with the Sharks. "After Christmas we all had it marked on our calendar. We wanted to be ready for this."
Thornton was impressed with his former team.
"They're a darn good team, probably one of the best we've played this year," Thornton said after capping the three-goal rally with his 13th goal. "If the power play was on a little bit more it would have been a different game."
The Bruins went 0-for-4 on the power play, including a 46-second, two-man advantage in the second period.
"We play fast, we play big," Thornton said. "They came out really strong and we didn't have too many answers. I think the second half of the game, the ice kind of tilted."
The West-leading Sharks, who have 81 points, trailed after two periods for only the 12th time this season.
"It's pretty rewarding to come back in a building like this and get a game like that in the third period," San Jose coach Todd McLellan said.
Marleau tied the game with his 27th goal at 3:32, and Michalek and Thornton struck 2:20 apart. Marleau assisted on the goal by Thornton, who played his second game in Boston since he was traded to the Sharks on Nov. 30, 2005.
Thornton, booed when he had the puck, scored when Devin Setogouchi's pass from behind the net hit Thornton's left skate and beat Tim Thomas at 9:48. The goal stood up after a video review.
Marleau assisted on Mike Grier's empty-net goal with 28.6 seconds left, giving the Bruins their first three-goal loss of the season.
Ryane Clowe had three assists, and Rob Blake also scored as the Sharks spoiled Thomas' 200th NHL game.
"They're the best team we've played so far this year and it would be nice to get another shot at them (in the Stanley Cup finals), hopefully with both teams being healthy," Julien said. "Hopefully we can work our way there, but that's a long ways off and there's a lot of things to be done before we can even think about that."
It was the first time in 10 games the Bruins didn't earn a point.
"We played a 40-minute game, that's the bottom line," Savard said. "We didn't play the last 20 and they're too good of a team not to play (60) minutes of hockey and they took advantage of it."
Lucic, who had missed eight of 16 games with a pair of injuries, scored for the first time since Jan. 1.
At Columbus, Ohio, Dan LaCosta made 31 saves for his first career shutout in his second NHL start.
LaCosta, who won his first start Saturday, played again because rookie Steve Mason is out due to mononucleosis and regular backup Wade Dubielewicz had the flu.
Andrew Murray, Jason Williams and Fredrik Modin scored third-period goals and Jan Hejda added two assists for Columbus.
At Uniondale, N.Y., Jack Johnson scored the only goal of the shootout in the final round as Los Angeles earned its fourth straight win.
Wayne Simmonds, Anze Kopitar and Alexander Frolov scored for the Kings. Jonathan Quick, who started his eight straight game, turned aside 22 shots.
The Islanders got goals from Doug Weight, Tim Jackman and Andy Hilbert. Yann Danis stopped 36 shots for the Islanders, who lost their third straight.
At Sunrise, Fla., Richard Zednik, exactly one year after he suffered a severe neck injury, scored his second goal at 1:02 of overtime to lift the Panthers.
Brett McLean, Nathan Horton and Ville Peltonen also scored for Florida, 10-3-3 since Jan. 1.
Niklas Hagman scored twice for Toronto, and Jamal Mayers and Nik Antropov added goals.
At Tampa, Fla., Kari Lehtonen made 40 saves, including a lunging glove save along the goal-line on Tampa Bay rookie Steven Stamkos' penalty shot with about eight minutes to play in the third.
Colin Stuart, Slava Kozlov and Ilya Kovalchuk scored for the Thrashers, who won for the second time in eight games.
Gary Roberts scored for the Lightning, who have lost five of six.
At Nashville, Tenn., Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk each had two goals and an assist in Detroit's fifth straight victory.
Zetterberg has 18 points in his past 15 games. Datsyuk scored a power-play goal and added an empty-netter with 12 seconds left. Marian Hossa also had a power-play goal.
Joel Ward scored twice for Nashville.
At St. Louis, Mats Sundin scored twice and Jannik Hansen's rebound goal with 4:42 to go capped Vancouver's rally from a pair of two-goal deficits.
Andy McDonald had a goal and an assist in his first game back after missing 36 due to a broken left ankle for the Blues.
The Canucks have won three in a row after losing eight straight. The 37-year-old Sundin has four goals in three games, and six goals and 10 points in 12 games since signing with Vancouver in December.