Joe Thornton scored his 200th career goal and added two assists to help the Sharks snap a three-game losing streak with a 4-2 victory over the Dallas Stars on Sunday night. Joe Pavelski, Jonathan Cheechoo and Patrick Marleau also had first-period goals for the Sharks, coming off a season-worst 8-0 road loss to the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday night. "We had a lot to talk about, mainly about effort," Pavelski said.
Coach Ron Wilson had a lengthy game-day tape session with his players and the emphasis was on defence.
"First of all, scoring the first goal for the first time in a long time was huge for us," Wilson said. "Last night we were down 3-0 after the first period. Tonight we get a three-goal lead with the same effort."
Vesa Toskala made 21 saves for the Sharks, who have 52 points, two more than the Stars, for second place in the Pacific Division.
Sergei Zubov and Niklas Hagman scored for the injury-depleted Stars, who had won four of their previous five.
Out for the Stars were left wing Brenden Morrow (severed tendons in his right wrist), centre Eric Lindros (upper body injury), and their most skilled offensive player, centre Mike Modano (hip flexor/groin injury), who missed his 13th straight game. Dallas is 7-6 since Modano's injury.
The Stars expected an early onslaught from the Sharks, and San Jose delivered, building a 17-7 first-period edge in shots.
"We knew they were going to play a desperate game," Stars coach Dave Tippett said. "This was our fourth game in six nights and we got behind the eight ball early. It takes a lot more energy to chase a team than to protect a lead."
Pavelski's rebound at 1:25 of the first period got the Sharks off to a fast start, scoring the Sharks' first goal against Dallas in the teams' last three meetings. That broke Stars goalie Marty Turco's 143:45 scoreless streak against the Sharks.
"He's been great against us," Thornton said. "We just wanted to get as many shots as we could and crash the net."
Cheechoo's 12th goal on a power-play rebound at 5:18 of the opening period made it 2-0.
Zubov's power-play goal got Dallas within 2-1 at 7:17.
But San Jose made it 3-1 on Marleau's power-play rebound for his 17th goal at 9:05 of the opening period when Dallas again failed to clear the front of the net.
"Cheechoo's goal was a second chance and mine was a third," Pavelski said. "I think we were just getting to the front. We had to work a little bit harder. With the new rules, it's harder to box you out. It seemed like every goal was a second or third try."
At that point, Tippett removed Turco and replaced him with rookie Mike Smith.
"That first goal was big," Turco said. "We didn't have a response. There were battles in front of the net and I couldn't keep those rebounds out."
The Sharks continued the barrage when Thornton notched his 11th goal of the season at 11:36 to extend the lead to 4-1.
"We were just trying to stop the bleeding and look for a change in momentum," Tippett said of the goalie change.
Hagman's goal from the slot at 10:03 of the final period pulled Dallas within 4-2.
Notes: Modano skated briefly at practice Saturday, but is expected to be out another two weeks. ... The Stars played at home on New Year's Eve for the ninth straight season. ... D Kyle McLaren was back in the San Jose lineup after missing three games due to the flu. ... Stars RW Matthew Barnaby was a healthy scratch for his third straight game. ... Out for the Sharks were RWs Ville Nieminen (lower body injury) and Ryan Clowe (groin). ... Mathias Tjarnqvist's assist on Hagman's goal was his first point of the season.