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Grier, Thornton help lift Sharks over Wild

Nov 8, 2006 - 6:22 AM SAN JOSE, California (Ticker) -- Not many San Jose Sharks fans thought Mike Grier would have more goals than Joe Thornton at this stage of the season.

Grier scored his fourth goal of the season and Thornton added his third to help lead the Sharks to a 3-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild.

San Jose avenged a 4-1 loss to the Wild on October 21.

"I thought we controlled the game 5-on-5," said San Jose coach Ron Wilson, whose club starts a four-game road trip Thursday against Los Angeles. "You could tell by how many penalties we drew. Our guys were really focused tonight and wanted to go on the road feeling good about themselves."

Thornton scored the eventual game-winner at 9:51 of the first period. He was just outside the crease when a pass from defenseman Matt Carle bounced off a Minnesota skate to him, and he banged the puck past Minnesota goaltender Manny Fernandez for a 2-0 lead.

Thornton's 16 assists ranks second in the NHL.

"The first five minutes we came out strong and obviously got a couple of goals early," Thornton said. "We played solid defensively and Patty (Marleau) with the third goal iced the game for us."

Earlier, Grier gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead at 5:41 when he redirected Christian Ehrhoff's shot past Fernandez.

"They are a tough team to play against," said Grier, who was acquired by the Sharks in the offseason for his physical presence. "You have to be patient. We got some pucks on the net, drove the net and won some battles in front and put some rebounds home. The power play did a good job even though we did not score."

Trailing, 2-0, in the first period, the Wild halved the deficit when Todd White took a pass from Pierre-Marc Bouchard from behind the net and beat San Jose goaltender Evgeni Nabokov.

San Jose got an insurance goal with just under five minutes left in the third period. Marleau took a drop pass from Mark Smith and blasted a shot past Fernandez, who was late getting over.

Nabokov finished with 22 saves for the Sharks, who went 0-for-6 on the power play.

"I think this was a great 60-minute effort," Nabokov said. "The score would have been much bigger but Manny (Fernandez) kept them in the game. He played great. I thought we played a very good game tonight.

Fernandez recorded 27 stops for the Wild, who were scoreless in three attempts with the extra man.

"Fernandez played well, I was very satisfied," said Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire. "All the guys in general, we played hard. You play a good team and you play with (just) two centers, what are you going to do? I thought we were fine, penalty killing was great, the only thing, we couldn't stay out of the (penalty) box a little more, so we could play 5-on-5 and have a chance to get a goal or two."

"When you give up two (goals) in the first period, obviously there's catching up to do for the rest of the game," said Fernandez, who entered with the third-highest save percentage in the league. "The second period, if we wanted to sniff a chance of winning this game, obviously we had to be strong offensively. I thought the second period was all right, just couldn't get enough chances to beat them and (Nabokov) was strong tonight, too."

San Jose's Jonathan Cheechoo, last season's Rocket Richard Trophy winner, was struck in the eye by a shot at 15:16 of the first period but returned for the second period.






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