Joe Thornton, the ageless wonder for the San Jose Sharks, will play his 1500th NHL game tonight against the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center.
The San Jose Sharks all-time great and company embark on a two-game back-to-back road trip, beginning with a clash with the Stars. Oddly enough, Dallas was the city where Sharks general manager Doug Wilson and the Sharks organization made the move to acquire Thornton in a trade with the Boston Bruins. Little did they know that he would be the light that completely transformed San Jose’s franchise.
Tonight, Thornton not only will skate in his 1500th NHL game to become the 19th player in NHL history to the plateau, but there are also a couple of milestones that he closes in on. Thornton is one goal shy from 400 goals. During the San Jose Sharks last four-game homestand, Thornton scored his first two goals of the season to bring his total to three points in six games during the 2018-2019 campaign.
Jumbo is two helpers away from tying legendary Pittsburgh Penguin Mario Lemieux for 11th place on the all-time list with 1,033 assists. The six-time All-Star currently sits 16th all-time with 1,430 points in 1,499 games played. All players ahead of Thornton have their names etched into the Hockey Hall of Fame, except for Jaromir Jagr, who undoubtedly will make it once he earns eligibility.
Thornton finds himself again on the third line with Barclay Goodrow and Marcus Sorensen after last game’s success against the Minnesota Wild. Tomas Hertl is still out with his head injury, however he did skate during his morning’s practice in Dallas. Here’s how the lines shape up:
Evander Kane – Joe Pavelski – Joonas Donskoi
Timo Meier – Logan Couture – Kevin Labanc
Barclay Goodrow – Joe Thornton – Marcus Sorensen
Melker Karlsson – Antti Suomela – Rourke Chartier
Joakim Ryan – Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon – Erik Karlsson
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
While health battles limit his consistency on the ice, Thornton continues to bring leadership and pass down words of wisdom to the younger guys on the team.
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Brent Burns has recorded at least one point in 11 of San Jose’s last 12 games. Despite the slow start, the heavy-shooting offensive defenseman has exploded to the third highest-scoring blueliner with18 points. Burns is second among defenseman with 15 assists.
Jamie Benn has three goals in his last four games. Benn leads the Stars with seven goals and his 12 points stands third on the team behind Tyler Seguin and John Klingberg.
Martin Jones (7-3-1, 2.72 GAA, .899 SV%)
Anton Khudobin (2-1-1, 2.22 GAA, .929 SV%)