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Thornton, Sharks beat Jackets for 9th straight win

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Joe Thornton and the NHL-leading San Jose Sharks toyed with the Columbus Blue Jackets before finishing them off in the third period.

Thornton scored the go-ahead goal with 12:19 left, and Evgeni Nabokov made 29 saves to help San Jose beat Columbus 3-2 on Thursday night for its ninth straight victory. The Sharks are 22-3-1 overall and 14-0-1 at home.

"We were sleeping all game, it felt like," Thornton said. "If Nabby didn't play as well as he did, we wouldn't have been in it. What you saw there was the best goalkeeper in the league. He stood strong for us."

Captain Patrick Marleau scored his franchise-record 76th power-play goal, Jeremy Roenick added his second goal in 26 games for the Sharks, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic assisted on all three goals.

"They came out pretty hard and gave us a little bit of a hard time," Nabokov said "But we showed the character. We showed the team toughness. ... We have to understand every game is going to get tougher."

In other NHL games Thursday night, it was: Pittsburgh 5, Carolina 2; Detroit 6, Vancouver 5; Boston 3, Tampa Bay 1; Montreal 6, the New York Rangers 2; Washington 5, the New York Islanders 2; New Jersey 3, Philadelphia 2 in overtime; Phoenix 6, Toronto 3; Florida 2, Buffalo 1; and Nashville 3, Colorado 2.

In San Jose, Thornton played in his 248th consecutive game with the Sharks, setting a franchise record for the former league MVP. He put San Jose ahead when he drew a delayed penalty in the corner, circled to the net and batted the rebound of Vlasic's shot out of the air for his eighth goal.

Rick Nash and Fredrik Modin scored for Columbus. The Blue Jackets opened a three-game California trip with their 15th loss in 16 games at the Shark Tank.

"We knew what we were getting into before the game," Nash said. "We knew they're the best team in the league. We showed some character coming back to tie the game, but they showed why they are the best team in the league."

At Raleigh, N.C., Petr Sykora scored two goals, Sidney Crosby had four assists and Pittsburgh spoiled Paul Maurice's first game in his second Carolina coaching stint.

Pascal Dupuis scored an early goal and NHL scoring leader Evgeni Malkin added two assists, even as his NHL lead over Crosby dwindled to two. Miroslav Satan and Ruslan Fedotenko also scored, and Dany Sabourin made 34 saves.

Tuomo Ruutu and Matt Cullen scored for the Hurricanes, playing a day after Peter Laviolette was fired and replaced by Maurice.

At Detroit, Jiri Hudler and Dan Cleary each scored twice and Detroit broke a tie with a three-goal outburst early in the third period.

Nicklas Lidstrom had a goal and two assists, Derek Meech scored his first career goal, and Chris Osgood made 20 saves. Henrik Sedin had a goal and an assist, and Taylor Pyatt, Kyle Wellwood, Mason Raymond and Alex Burrows added goals for Vancouver.

At Tampa, Fla., David Krejci scored the tiebreaking short-handed goal in the third period for Boston, 12-1-1 since the start of November.

Phil Kessel had two goals, including an empty-netter with less than a second left, and Tim Thomas made 30 saves to improve to 7-1-1 in his last nine starts. Martin St. Louis scored for Tampa Bay. The Lightning have lost six in a row and 13 of 15.

At Montreal, Steve Begin and Maxim Lapierre each had a goal and an assist and the Canadiens celebrated their 99th birthday with a victory.

Andrei Kositsyn, Alex Tanguay, Robert Lang and Matt D'Agostini also scored for Montreal. Markus Naslund and Nigel Dawes scored for New York.

At Washington, Donald Brashear scored his first goal of the season with 13:10 left to give Washington a 3-2 lead.

Eric Fehr added a power-play goal with 3:46 to go, and Nicklas Backstrom scored into an empty net. Alex Ovechkin had a goal and two assists, and Viktor Kozlov also scored. Mark Streit and Trent Hunter scored for New York.

At Philadelphia, Patrik Elias scored the tying goal with 1:30 left in regulation and added the winner for New Jersey at 2:46 of the extra period.

Zach Parise added a goal and an assist for New Jersey in its sixth win in seven games. Kimmo Timonen and Scottie Upshall scored for Philadelphia.

At Glendale, Ariz., Martin Hanzal had his first three-goal game in the NHL, and Steven Reinprecht added a pair of third-period goals for Phoenix.

Todd Fedoruk also scored in Phoenix's fourth victory in five games. Alexei Ponikarovsky scored twice, and Jason Blake had a goal and two assists for Toronto.

At Sunrise, Fla., Craig Anderson made 45 saves, and Gregory Campbell and Keith Ballard scored 35 seconds apart in the second period for Florida.

Ales Kotalik scored for Buffalo. The Sabres have lost eight of their last 10.

At Nashville, Tenn., Vernon Fiddler, Shea Weber and David Legwand scored first-period goals, and Pekka Rinne made 19 saves for Nashville.

Ryan Smyth and Wojtek Wolski had first-period goals for Colorado.

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