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Sharks rally to top Wild on Thornton's OT goal

by Eric Gilmore

SAN JOSE -- Maybe Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau should ask to renegotiate their new contracts with the San Jose Sharks.

One day after reaching agreement on three-year extensions, Thornton scored two goals, including the game-winner at 3:30 of overtime, and Marleau scored one to lift the Sharks to a 3-2 victory Saturday night against the Minnesota Wild

"For me and Patty both to score, it's a great night for us," said Thornton, who had his first multigoal game since scoring twice against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Jan. 31, 2012.

Marleau scored his 22nd goal of the season in the second period to tie the game at 2-2.

"It's a nice coincidence, that's for sure," Marleau said. "Guys feel good about it, and hopefully that's what led to tonight's win."

Thornton took a pass from Joe Pavelski in the left circle and ripped a shot past Minnesota rookie goalie Darcy Kuemper, who made 29 saves, to end the game.

Pavelski, who had scored 19 goals in his previous 21 games, assisted on both of Thornton's goals against Minnesota as he reversed roles with the NHL's leader in assists. On Thornton's game-winner, Pavelski stole the puck then controlled it at the blue line until Thornton broke wide open.

"What a steal and just the poise to hold onto it and hold onto it and wait for me to get into the zone," Thornton said. "He just out-competed and laid it in on me, and game over. He can do it all, and tonight he just decided to be the passer, so that was nice of him."

The Sharks overcame a 2-0 second-period deficit to win their sixth straight game and beat the Wild in San Jose for the seventh straight time. San Jose, which got 20 saves from goaltender Antti Niemi, won two of three games against Minnesota to take the season series.

Matt Cooke and Keith Ballard scored for the Wild.

"If you get a point in this building, it's really not that bad of a thing," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "They are obviously a very strong team, especially here at home. I think what was disappointing was like you could see what was happening -- we lost the extra point because of the faceoff circle tonight. We spent the entire night chasing, and it's inevitable that they will put you on your heels and give them some momentum. We never started with the puck. That was the big story."

The Sharks won 41 of 59 faceoffs (69 percent).

The Wild jumped to a 2-0 lead on goals by Cooke in the first period and Ballard early in the second. The Sharks pulled even on second-period goals 49 seconds apart by Thornton and Marleau.

Cooke gave the Wild a 1-0 lead at 9:33 of the first period with an unassisted goal, his eighth of the season. He deflected a cross-ice pass from Thornton that got past defenseman Brad Stuart and bounced off the right boards. Cooke beat Stuart to the puck and scored on a breakaway, faking right then beating Niemi to the far side.

The Sharks outshot Minnesota 11-7 in the first period, but after firing eight shots in the first 7:46, they went more than eight minutes before recording their next shot.

Ballard extended Minnesota's lead to 2-0 at 4:16 of the second with his first goal of the season and first since Oct. 6, 2011, a span of 115 games. His most-recent goal came when he played for the Vancouver Canucks against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Jason Pominville won a battle for the puck on the back boards and sent it to Mikael Granlund. Granlund skated behind the net and zipped a pass to Ballard, who scored from the circle. Pominville earned an assist for his 500th NHL point.

"We got a point against a good team in a tough building to play," Ballard said. "And for the most part, we played a fairly solid game. We weren't the best at times. But we hung in there and even after they got those two quick goals, I thought we responded pretty well. We just couldn't find the time to get the third one tonight."

Shortly after his team fell behind by two goals, Sharks coach Todd McLellan shuffled his lines. The biggest move was flopping top-line wing Brent Burns with second-line wing Matthew Nieto.

Each of those new-look lines produced a goal in the second period.

McLellan said a hit from Wild forward Zach Parise on Sharks defenseman Jason Demers midway through the second period might have "woke us up a little bit."

"We sure weren't very sharp," McLellan said. "I thought we started the game well. For the first eight minutes, we were fine. We were playing the kind of game we wanted. We had the turnover in the neutral zone, and after they scored, we never regained any type of momentum until later in the second period. Had to shuffle some lines, play guys in different roles a little bit just to wake everybody up. We have to be aware of that as a team. We can't fall into a trap where we get sleepy, lazy, nonchalant just because we're at home. Teams are competing hard, and we have to match that."

Thornton scored his seventh goal of the season at 11:12 of the second, taking a pass from Pavelski in the left circle and banking a shot off Wild forward Kyle Brodziak's right arm and past Kuemper.

Less than a minute later, the Sharks pulled even when Marleau beat Kuemper with a shot from close range to the far side after Tommy Wingels whiffed on a shot attempt but recovered to get the puck to Marleau.

"They're our guys, and we need them when we're down," Sharks defenseman Matt Irwin said of Marleau and Thornton. "It's just kind of ironic what happened."

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