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Thornton Relaxed In Debut

by Staff Writer / San Jose Sharks
The script couldn’t have been written much better. In Joe Thornton’s Sharks debut, San Jose scored three early goals, Team Teal pitched a shutout, Joe Thornton skated all night with his cousin Scott and posted two assists. Thornton became the 12th Sharks player to post a multi-point game in his debut.

Ten others have registered two points in the first game in teal and Darren Turcotte holds the best mark with three points back on March 20, 1996.

“The team played great and all 20 players excelled,” said Thornton. “They made it easy for me to relax.”

Still, there were some jitters.

“I was a little nervous, but the guys calmed me down,” said Thornton. “It was funny putting on another jersey.”

Thornton rang a shot off the post on his very first shift 10 seconds into the game.

“I just put a shot on net to feel good,” said Thornton. “It didn’t go in, but it calmed the nerves.”

Scott Thornton led the shot parade with five shots, while Cheechoo and Ehrhoff each finished with four. It is not surprising that Thornton’s wingers combined for nine shots, and that doesn’t include Joe Thornton’s two shots (which doesn’t include his opening bomb that rang off the pipe).

“Scott is big and strong in the corners and does the dirty work and Cheech has a nice knack for scoring around the net,” said Thornton. “They played great and I got a feel for their games.”

Cheechoo will not mind seeing more passes like he received Friday night.

“Playing with a guy like that is easy,” said Cheechoo. “You just read off him and get open. He is a playmaker, so you just want the puck in his hands. He plays pretty simple and he holds guys off when he has the puck like Scott. We are a pretty good fit.”

Cheechoo and Thornton had a good idea who would skate between them when they skated alone in the previous practice. Besides a couple of easy goals, Cheechoo found another advantage to his newly formed line.

“There is just one name to yell,” said Cheechoo.

Thornton will still have to adjust to the Sharks overall schemes.

“It is really up tempo,” said Thornton. “The guys can skate. It was my first game and I’ll learn more.”

Lost amid the Joe Thornton chaos, rookie blueliner Doug Murray played in his first NHL contest.

“It couldn’t have been a better situation with him coming in,” said Murray. “I was just a blip on the radar and left alone to play my game. It was perfect timing.”

Actually playing in the game wasn’t to most nerve-wracking part for Murray.

“I was the most nervous when they called me up,” said Murray. “In Houston, I didn’t sleep at all. I came into the pregame skate a little nervous. The guys made me feel like part of the team.”

Murray also had the luxury of being paired with Canadian World Cup defenseman Scott Hannan.

“I couldn’t have picked a better defenseman to play my first game with,” said Murray. “He is a great player.”

And now Murray can say that he’s never lost an NHL game.

“It felt great out there and it was great to get the win,” said Murray. “We haven’t been too hot in Cleveland either.”

Scott Hannan led the way for San Jose on the plus/minus sheet with a +3. The big third period lead allowed Ron Wilson to rest his workhorse blueliner and Hannan finished with just 20:59 of ice time.

A lot of well deserved attention is going to Joe Thornton right now, but the Sharks Captain, Patrick Marleau led the stat sheet with three helpers.

With Marleau and Thornton combining for five assists, it is a good omen for the difficulties coming for future opponents who have to pick their poison.

“I hope we have a lot of games like this,” said Thornton. “Patty is such a great scorer and all-around player. It is exciting.”

“A checking line cannot pick on one line all night,” said Marleau. “Things are spread out now. It is a good thing to have.”

San Jose now has four shared shutouts in franchise history.

The first came back in 1999 when Kelly Hrudey and Mike Vernon teamed up to shutout Calgary 6-0. Nabokov has been involved in the other three.

Prior to tonight, he shared a 0-0 tie with Vesa Toskala at Phoenix on November 21, 2003 and another with Miikka Kirprusoff in a 3-0 victory against Montreal on March 12, 2001.

The split goaltending duties came when Nabokov tweaked his groin in the third period. He is questionable for Toronto.

San Jose scored three times in a two minute and two second span during the first period. That was fast, but the record occurred November 3, 2001 when Jeff Jillson, Scott Thornton and Marco Sturm scored three times in :36 seconds.
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