Thornton, Sharks look to keep Oilers down

NHL Hockey
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Another game, another milestone for Joe Thornton.

The San Jose Sharks forward became only the 14th player in NHL history to reach 1,500 career points with two assists in a 3-1 victory at Calgary on Tuesday night.

Thornton, who is 31 points behind Hall of Fame defenseman Paul Coffey for 13th on the all-time scoring list, will look to pull closer when the Sharks play at Edmonton on Thursday night.

Thornton, in his 22nd season, has 415 goals and 1,085 assists in 1,620 games.

“I’ve played with a lot of really good teams and really good players,” the 40-year-old Thornton told reporters. “Fortunate enough to stay healthy a lot of years so it’s very, very special.”

The other players in the 1,500-point club are Wayne Gretzky, Jaromir Jagr, Mark Messier, Gordie Howe, Ron Francis, Marcel Dionne, Steve Yzerman, Mario Lemieux, Joe Sakic, Phil Esposito, Ray Bourque, Mark Recchi and Coffey.

“I know all the names. I’ve been a hockey fan since ’84, probably,” Thornton said. “I know all of the names. I’ve lived and breathed hockey my entire life. To be up there with these guys, it’s very humbling.”

Thornton reached the milestone at 7:45 of the third period when he assisted on a goal by Kevin Labanc that gave the Sharks a 3-1 lead.

“I didn’t know that until they were flipping the puck to the bench,” teammate Evander Kane said. “Obviously a storied career. His production keeps trucking along. He continues to get up there in age and he still has that great vision and is able to make great plays to find open guys, and he has great poise.”

The victory was just the second in the past seven games for the Sharks, who are 8-11-2 since interim coach Bob Boughner replaced the fired Peter DeBoer on Dec. 11.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” Kane said. “I think we’re just going to try to continue to give ourselves chances to win games here. (Tuesday) we were able to finish some of our chances. We’re going to need to continue to do that to win games.”

The Oilers have the top two point producers in the league in Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid, but are coming off a 3-0 loss Tuesday at Arizona.

Draisaitl, who has a league-leading 83 points (29 goals, 54 assists) was kept off the scoresheet for the first time since Dec. 27, snapping an 11-game point streak and a run of five consecutive multi-point games.

“That’s a good team over there,” Draisaitl said of the Coyotes. “They compete hard and, obviously, they’re in a playoff race just as much as we are. We just really couldn’t get on the inside, couldn’t squeak one by. Those games happen and you just have to recover from it.”

Entering Tuesday, the Oilers were 8-1-2 since coach Dave Tippett moved Draisaitl off the top line with McDavid.

The loss snapped Edmonton’s five-game point streak during which it scored 26 goals.

“We did not have much juice,” Tippett said. “I was worried about that yesterday, today, this morning, before the game. We just finished three real emotional, hard games. You could tell we did not have much in the tank.”

–Field Level Media

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