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Big 3 Come Through

Heatley, Thornton and Marleau Hammer The Flyers

Saturday, 11.21.2009 / 2:55 AM / News
By San Jose Sharks Staff
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Big 3 Come Through
With his four assists on the night, Joe Thornton reached an NHL milestone, surpassing the 600 assist mark for his career (601). Thornton, who now has 30 points, leads the NHL with 24 assists and improved his point streak to four games (2 goals, 6 assists). The four helpers in one game also ties a Sharks franchise record for most assists in a game. The feat has been accomplished 18 times, the last was by (not surprisingly) Thornton this season on Oct. 8 versus Columbus. It was Thornton’s ninth career four-plus assist night.

Simply put, Thornton is the NHL’s top setup man and when he’s combined with Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau, they easily could be the NHL’s most deadly trio. Heatley now has 17 goals on the season to lead the NHL while Marleau has 14 to his credit. It marked Heatley’s ninth career hat trick and second with San Jose.

“When you throw Patty in there, it’s a pretty dynamic line,” said Thornton of the group who played together for an entire game for the first time all season. “For me to pass to those two, it’s a passer’s dream.”

“They were really clicking,” said McLellan. “I’m obviously happy for them. They made a real impact on the game. They also got our team energized a little bit. They were there to play right off the bat. It’s nice to see them rewarded offensively for it.”

Three of Thornton’s helpers came on Heatley’s three goals and two of the passes that were made were done to the disbelief of everyone in the HP Pavilion. Both times it appeared as if Thornton has missed his window for the connection.

“When I gave it to him (for the first one), he held it and I waited and waited,” said Heatley. “As the guy receiving the past, you’ve got to trust he will get it there. With Joe, you know he will find a lane.”

The second goal was a carbon copy as Heatley planted in front of the crease and it appeared Thornton had no seem for the pass. He continued to wait until the right moment.

“Both times he stopped in the exact same spot and he stayed,” said Thornton of Heatley.

“Patty was saying before the pass that 17,562 people were yelling for him to shoot,” said Manny Malhotra. “He is so special. I don’t know too many people who could make that.”

“Joe made an amazing play,” said Marc-Edouard Vlasic. “Joe made the pass when any other player would have shot.”

Even McLellan was thinking shoot.

“Both times,” said McLellan. “I joked that he knew what we were all thinking and he said, ‘I know.’”

For Heatley, he enjoyed the chemistry on the night, especially from the man who delivered the hat trick helpers.

“The puck was following us as a group,” said Heatley. “Joe is a great player.

Marleau and Thornton were happy to help Thornton reach the 600 number.

“600 is a lot,” said Heatley. “He is one of the best, if not the best passer in the game. It’s fun getting to play with him.”

Heatley felt there could have been more goals for the line.

“In the first period, we could have had two or three,” said Heatley.

Patrick Marleau scored a big go-ahead goal with seconds remaining in the second period. Ray Emery got most of the puck, but couldn’t squeeze it between his pads and the post. It slowly rolled down the back of his pad and dropped over the line.

“I’ve seen the replay,” said Marleau. “I knew he was struggling to find it and then the crowd roared.”

Malhotra’s goal was not drawn up on the board in the fashion it occurred, but it happened because of the game plan. On the play, his slapper from the point went off two Flyers before crossing the line.

“That’s from back in my pinball days,” said Malhotra. “They are great at blocking shot and we wanted to get some through.”

Of Malhotra’s four goals this year, three have come against the Flyers.

Of all people, Marc-Edouard Vlasic was in a fight Friday night, the first of his NHL career.

“It just happened,” said Vlasic. “I’m not looking for it. It just happened.”

The players were almost as jacked for that moment as they were for the hat trick.

“Jumbo was pretty pumped I fought,” said Vlasic. “Even Shelley was surprised.”

The Flyers have only surrendered four or more goals five times this year and Sharks have now done it twice. It was the first time the Flyers had surrendered six goals this year, but the third time San Jose had accomplished the mark.

“They played a heck of a hockey game. They beat us every way you can imagine, five-on-five, short-handed and on the power-play. It’s pretty clear cut the guys you have got to try to shut down. They dominated the game and that was the end of it.”

“Even in the second period it felt like we were back in the game. The special teams were a huge factor tonight.”

The Sharks flew right after the game for Saturday’s 7 p.m. game in Anaheim that will be on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and




1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67


J. Pavelski 82 41 38 23 79
J. Thornton 82 11 65 20 76
P. Marleau 82 33 37 0 70
L. Couture 65 23 31 21 54
B. Burns 69 22 26 26 48
T. Wingels 77 16 22 11 38
D. Boyle 75 12 24 -8 36
J. Demers 75 5 29 14 34
T. Hertl 37 15 10 11 25
M. Nieto 66 10 14 -4 24
A. Stalock 12 5 2 .932 1.87
A. Niemi 39 17 7 .913 2.39
Image Map