Thornton thanks Sharks fans, 'best fans in NHL'
Logan Couture scored the game's first goal, but it took third-period goals from Patrick Marleau (2), Martin Havlat and Joe Thornton to pull out the win in the home opener. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
SAN JOSE – Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau have done it again.
Marleau scored two goals for the third straight game, including the game-winner with less than two minutes in regulation to break a 3-3 tie, to lead San Jose to a 5-3 victory. Thornton finished with four points, including an empty-net goal and three assists. Marleau's six goals and Thornton's nine points lead the NHL.
The Sharks improved to 3-0-0 on the young season after winning their first two games on the road.
On the deciding goal, Thornton threw the puck towards the offensive zone from center ice. Joe Pavelski got it ahead to an open Marleau, who sent a wrist shot past Jason LaBarbera with 1:53 to go. It capped an impressive comeback in which the Sharks trailed 3-1 midway through the third.
The game was tied 1-1 to start the third, and the Coyotes jumped ahead on a controversial goal. Shane Doan barreled into goalie Antti Niemi, and Antoine Vermette deposited the loose puck at 5:01 on the power play to give Phoenix its first lead of the night.
[VIDEO: Highlights -- Sharks 5, Coyotes 3]
It got worse for Niemi, who allowed Lauri Korpikoski to score from an impossible angle at 7:28, on a shot that he should have routinely stopped.
The Sharks, who had been dormant since the middle of the first period on, finally came alive again at that point. Less than two minutes after the Korpikoski goal, Thornton had the puck alone in the faceoff circle. He got LaBarbera to commit before finding Marleau alone in the slot for an easy goal at 9:15, bringing the Sharks back to within 3-2.
Marty Havlat tucked in a Ryane Clowe rebound at 13:06 to tie it at 3-3 before Marleau eventually sent the sellout crowd home happy. Thornton capped the scoring with an empty-net goal, his first, to go along with the eight assists he's already compiled in three games.
The teams combined for six goals in the third period.
The Sharks opened the scoring on the power play, when Logan Couture tipped in a shot from Pavelski at 19:22. The goal was Couture’s third.
Phoenix was fortunate to not be down by that point already, as the Sharks outshot the Coyotes 12-1 over the first eight-plus minutes of the game, including numerous prime scoring chances. They managed just seven shots from then until the end of the second period, only registering two in the middle frame.
Phoenix tied the game on a two-man advantage, when Steve Sullivan, coming off of a hat trick the night before, wristed in a shot from the circle before Niemi had a chance to cover the near post at 7:11 of the second. The game remained tied at 1-1 after two periods.
The Sharks held a moment of silence before the game for former owner George Gund III, who passes away from cancer earlier this month. The Sharks are wearing a patch on their jerseys in Gund’s honor this season.
The Sharks went down two men for a full two minutes on a pair of high-sticking calls in the second period. TJ Galiardi was issued a double-minor for getting Korpikoski up high, and a little more than a minute later, Andrew Desjardins whacked Derek Morris in the helmet. San Jose nearly had the two-man advantage killed off thanks to Douglas Murray, Michal Handzus and Brad Stuart, but Sullivan converted with just 12 seconds to go before Desjardins’ penalty expired.
The Sharks scored on the power play for the third straight game, and all seven of their man-advantage goals have come from the top unit. They did, however, squander 1:22 of two-man advantage time of their own in the first period.
The Coyotes were 2-for-6 on the power play, while the Sharks finished 1-for-7. The Sharks have allowed five power play goals in three games.
LaBarbera kept the Coyotes in it early, as the Sharks generated 12 of the game’s first 13 shots. The goalie snagged Dan Boyle’s wrist shot just 90 seconds into the game, and later robbed Pavelski alone in front of the net after the Sharks won an offensive zone faceoff. He turned aside a few strong attempts during San Jose’s long first period power play, too. LaBarbera finished with 30 saves on 34 shots to record the loss.
Niemi picked up the win, his third, with 32 saves.
James Sheppard got the call over Frazer McLaren on the fourth line wing. Jason Demers (wrist) and Brent Burns (lower body) remained out.
Phoenix goalie Mike Smith suffered a lower body injury on Wednesday night against Columbus, and did not suit up for the game. The club recalled Chad Johnson to act as LaBarbera’s backup.
Matthew Lombardi left the game with an upper body injury and did not return for the Coyotes.
The Sharks continue their six-game homestand on Saturday when they host Jamie McGinn and the Colorado Avalanche at 1 p.m. Vancouver visits on Sunday (5 p.m.).