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Thornton, Marleau lead Sharks over Lightning

Oct 30, 2006 - 12:34 AM TAMPA, Florida (Ticker) -- The San Jose Sharks were finally rewarded for their patience with Joe Thornton.

The reigning Hart and Art Ross Trophy winner, Thornton scored his first goal of the campaign and Patrick Marleau added his sixth to lead the Sharks to a 4-2 triumph over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

In winning their sixth straight game against Southeast Division opponents, the Sharks won here for the first time since February 8, 2000. They have also taken 11 of their last 12 contests against the Eastern Conference.

"We're effective when we play in their end," Thornton said. "That's our bread and butter. We lost track of it the last two games. That's where we need to play to win games."

"You never want to put yourself in position to lose three games in a row and we were in that position, but took care of business," Sharks coach Ron Wilson said. "We had to show some passion and energy early and make sure we got some pucks deep and check, and it led to a lot of scoring chances."

Coming off his award-winning season in 2005-2006, Thornton is tied with Vancouver's Henrik Sedin for second in the league in assists (13), but had not scored a goal in San Jose's first 11 contests.

While Tampa Bay's Nick Tarnasky was serving a tripping penalty, Milan Michalek made a quick pass in front to Thornton, who knocked the puck inside the right goalpost past netminder Marc Denis at 4:02 of the opening period.

Ryan Clowe, who has been placed on injured reserve twice this month with foot injuries, scored his first career goal at 2:51 of the second session by taking Mike Grier's backpass from behind the net and lifting the puck under the crossbar for a 2-0 lead.

"I really stopped thinking about it," Clowe said. "When you just kind of go out and play, it will just happen and that's what I tried to do this year. It's really special. It feels great."

After Vincent Lecavalier cut the deficit with his sixth goal with 3:52 left in the second period, Marleau gave the Sharks some breathing room midway through the third.

Scott Hannan's wrister from the left faceoff circle deflected off Marleau and off Lightning defenseman Dan Boyle's skate before getting by Denis for a 3-1 advantage.

"It's tough to play catch up, especially against a good team," Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella said. "They're a very good hockey team and we couldn't get (back) all the way. We were just one play away from tying the game and we just couldn't get it. The one that bothers me."

Grier added an empty-net tally and Evgeni Nabokov made 18 saves for the Sharks, who topped the Lightning in their lone encounter of the campaign.

"I thought they were trying to create a lot of screens and come to the net hard, but our defense did a great job," Nabokov said. "A couple of times, we had to scramble to the pucks. They're a great team and I know that they were kind of tired."

"I thought we held them off and thought we played better five-on-five," Sharks defenseman Kyle McLaren said. "It was a solid effort. We've had good goaltending all year. Both goalies have played good all season. We were fortunate and very lucky to get the win."

Martin St. Louis scored his sixth goal in the last four games with 6:46 left and Denis stopped 25 shots for Tampa Bay.

"I really don't care about my goal," St. Louis said. "(Nabokov) made some good saves. I think we chased the puck for most of the game, but we got some chances. We hung in there. We just couldn't get the equalizer. We weren't out of it by any means, but they got the job done."

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