ST. LOUIS – Sharks center Joe Thornton will never forget the first multi-goal playoff game of his career.
But not because he scored twice and added an assist in the Sharks’ thrilling 5-4 overtime win over St. Louis in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals on Wednesday.
The 39-year-old future Hall of Famer was more charged up by the way his team rallied with a late goal in regulation and an extra- session winner by Erik Karlsson.
2019 NHL Playoffs: St. Louis Blues try to brush off brutal Game 3 loss to even series vs. Sharks
Thornton turned in his biggest performance of this post-season at the perfect time. He pounced on the rebound of a shot from the point by Marc Edouard-Vlasic late in the first period to put the Sharks up 2-0.
Early in the second period, he provided a momentum-changing tally by converting just 18 seconds after Alexander Steen had scored for St. Louis to make it 2-1.
In addition, Thornton helped set up Logan Couture’s goal with 61 seconds left in regulation to send San Jose into its fourth OT game of the post-season.
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“This guy’s one of the greatest players of all time,” San Jose coach Peter DeBoer said. “I know he wasn’t happy with his last game. And that’s the response you get from a Hall of Fame player. We wouldn’t have a chance to win without him.”
Thornton has struggled at times over the last two series. He had just one assist in his previous eight games and linemates Kevin Labanc and Marcus Sorensen were also in a funk.
DeBoer made a change Wednesday, benching Sorensen in a favor of Melker Karlsson on that third line. The move paid immediate dividends with Labanc adding two assists.
Thornton had just 16 goals in 73 regular-season games and it appeared as though age might have caught up with 6-foot-4, 220 pounder.
“A huge bounce-back night for that line and (Thornton) in general,” Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said. “He’s been positive. He’s a calming influence on us. He’s there for everybody. If it’s not going good for him, you wouldn’t know. He’s a good teammate, he’s always been that way.”
Thornton is one of the more popular players on the team and a fan favorite for his hustle and never-say-die attitude.
“It’s been a battle for him these last few years,” said Couture. “He’s gone through way more (difficulties) than a lot of people know. You’re watching a guy at 39, playing as hard as he can every night. You can’t fault his effort and his love for the game. It’s pretty inspiring.”
John Randall, a fan from Chesterfield, Mo., has started a GoFundMe page in honor of Marc Joanette, the referee who missed a blatant hand pass that led to an Erik Karlsson goal and a 5-4 overtime win for the San Jose Sharks in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals.
“We just worked,” Thornton said. “We were patient and we made plays.”Related Articles Live playoff updates: Sharks give up early goal to Blues in Game 4 Things to know: Sharks lineup change, Braun on Blais hit and second line struggles Sharks center could soon share mark set by two other NHL greats Drew Remenda on the Sharks: ‘It was a hand pass’ Timo Meier explains ending to Game 3 from his vantage point
Thornton became the oldest player in franchise history to score twice in a single post-season game at 39 years and 10 months. He eclipsed the old mark set by Jeremy Roenick (38 years, 96 days) in the 2008 Western Conference quarterfinals against Calgary.
Eric The Clown said it best when George Costanza couldnt move on: “Youre living in the past, man!”
After the Blues fell to the Sharks 5-4 in overtime Wednesday, the team couldnt stop complaining about what appeared to be a non-reviewable illegal hand pass by Sharks winger Timo Meier before Erik Karlssons game-winning goal.
It was an unfortunate miss by our on-ice officials, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told Jeremy Rutherford of The Athletic. They were among our most highly performance-rated officials in our league this year. Mistakes happen, and I think everyone involved on both teams and with the League understand that.
“Can we create a better mousetrap to minimize either the incidence or impact of those mistakes? Thats what our competition committee, our GMs and ultimately our board will have to figure out. For now, we will turn the page and move on.
Theres no turning back now, though. The league has admitted its mistake and surely will look further into a solution in the offseason.
The goal gave the Sharks a two-games-to-one series lead over the Blues. St. Louis now can either be stuck in the past or tie it up on their home ice Friday night.