photo from sjgate.com: San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton, left, celebrates after scoring a goal against the New York Rangers during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, at Madison Square Garden in New York.
By Jessica Kwong
NEW YORK—The San Jose Sharks fought hard and alternate captain Joe Thornton reached an achievement at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, but they fell apart in the final period and lost 3-2 to the New York Rangers.
Thornton scored both goals for the Sharks and became the third player 40 years of age or older to have a two-goal game at the Garden, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. But the Sharks, tied with the Rangers after the second period, were scoreless in the third.
Sharks interim head coach Bob Boughner said the team “couldn’t have a better first period” and “produced a lot of chances.” But the Sharks are struggling with three of their best players injured: center and captain Logan Couture, defenseman Erik Karlsson and center Tomas Hertl.
“Again, I’ve said this, seems like a little bit of a broken record but I say that with the personnel that we have in there now we have to almost play a perfect or near to perfect game when you’re only scoring one or two a night,” Boughner said. “And it’s not for lack of effort, it’s not for a lack of compete, it’s not for a lack of chances.”
Rangers right wing Jesper Fast scored the first goal of the game at 9:35, assisted by left wing Artemi Panarin who was left alone, and center Ryan Strome.
Center “Jumbo” Thornton scored at 17:55 into the first to tie the game at 1-1, assisted by right wing Timo Meier and defenseman Mario Ferraro. It was Thornton’s third goal of the season.
“Timo just made a nice play and kind of pounded it,” Thornton said.
The Sharks took the lead at 13:47 into the second period. Thornton scored on the power play with the help of defenseman Brent Burns and right wing Kevin Labanc.
“Burnzie’s shot just tipped off my kneepad, so just at the right place at the right time,” Thornton said.
Thornton became only the third player 40 years or older to hit two goals at the Garden, and it was his first two-goal game since Feb. 18, 2019, against the Boston Bruins. He had a hat trick that night.
But the Rangers tied the game at 2-2 when center Mika Zibanejad scored at 17:27 into the second period, assisted by Panarin. The Rangers had the 8 final shots including a penalty shot that did not go in.
The Sharks came up in the third but the Rangers took control of the period, with Jesper scoring 6:54 in, assisted by defenseman Jacob Trouba and Strome. The Sharks blocked 9 shots.
Sharks goalie Aaron Dell said he thought he played “fairly good most of the time.”
“I think kind of the same story, soft in front of both nets,” Dell said. “And I think we had times where it was good and times where it wasn’t.”
The Sharks (26-31-4) continue their four-game road trip on Sunday against the New York Islanders (34-20-6) at Nassau Coliseum at 2 p.m. PT.