For the first time in a San Jose Shakes uniform, Joe Thornton stepped onto the ice with not only big expectations, but also with big responsibilities.He did not disappoint.
After becoming the eighth captain in Sharks history, Joe Thornton came up big with a pair of goals in Stockholm. Thornton's contributions help the sharks bring home three points from the international trip where they faced the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The first of the two game series started off quick for the Sharks. With only two minuets gone in the opening period center Torrey Mitchell stuck one past Columbus' Steve Mason to open up the scoring. San Jose struck again mid-way through the first when Thornton scored from near the blue line.
Then came the let down. still in the opening period, Columbus struck back with two goals in a fifteen second span.Kristian Huselius scored first to bring Columbus back within one, and then after a turnover near the goal, R.J. Umberger put it past Antti Niemi to level the score at two.
There would be little offense until the third period when young Logan Couture in his first season opener scored on a Sharks power play.That would be the final, 3-2. Niemi finished with 30 saves and Joe Pavelski finished with two assists.
The second game played out in similar fashion to its predecessor. An early goal in the first on a Sharks power play by Devin Setoguchi was answered a minute later by a Rick Nash goal. The goal trading continued in the third when Kristian Huselius put the puck passed Niemi. But again, the goal was answered. This time Captain Joe Thornton came back with his second goal of the season.
squared off at two a piece at the end of three, the game entered overtime, but not for long. After only two minutes Columbus' Ethan moreau scored, giving the Bluejackets the win.
Although not the four points they wanted to come home with, the Sharks looked good. Getting Thornton going early is a good sign for the Sharks offense. Pavelski had some good assists and so did Ryane Clowe, who had three assists in the series. The Sharks were 9 of 11 on penalty kills and 4 of 14 on power plays (ranked 7th in the league).
Defensive issues are showing why San Jose could have some trouble this year. Two goals in 15 seconds is not going to do it.
San Jose will get a few days off as they get over their 5,000 mile trip back from Sweden. They will be welcoming Evander kane and the Atlanta Thrashers next Saturday. The Thrashers (1-1-0) are still without goalie Ondrej Pavelec who collapsed on the ice last week and is still recovering from an apparent concussion.