Thornton's Goal Lifts Sharks Over Ducks

Monday, December 17th 2007, 7:16 am
By: News On 6

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) _ The San Jose Sharks finally got the better of Anaheim in a shootout, spoiling the return of Scott Niedermayer to the Ducks.

After only four of the 11 previous shooters were successful, Joe Thornton ended the shootout by snapping off a shot to the stick side of Ducks goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere, giving San Jose a 2-1 victory on Sunday night.

The Sharks had lost two previous meetings with Anaheim this season, both on shootouts.

``Every game we come here or they come up to us, it's always an exciting, low-scoring game,'' Thornton said. ``We've been having a lot of shootouts against them, so it's nice to win.''

Niedermayer, who was the playoffs MVP after helping the Ducks win their first Stanley Cup last season, sat out the first part of this season while contemplating retirement. He informed the team on Dec. 5 that he was returning, and began working out with his teammates.

A former Norris Trophy winner as the league's top defenseman, Niedermayer didn't look particularly rusty in his first game since June. On one play in the second period when he was hemmed in by two defenders, he deftly flicked a no-look, backhand pass between them and to an open teammate.

``I really didn't know what to expect, just probably play it by ear and see how I was feeling,'' said the 34-year-old Niedermayer. ``If I was tired, I'd get off and change.''

In other NHL games Sunday, it was Phoenix 5, the New York Rangers 1; New Jersey 4, Philadelphia 2; Calgary 5, St. Louis 3; and Florida 3, Chicago 1.

With Niedermayer leading the defense, the Ducks held San Jose to just the lone goal through regulation and overtime, a marked improvement to the five they allowed in a 5-2 loss to Minnesota two days earlier.

Niedermayer played 23:52 against the Sharks, took one shot and drew a penalty for holding.

``Getting that first one under your belt is always a big step,'' he said. ``The next two games are back-to-back, so that will be another bit of a test. But it's all part of it, and I've just got to be smart and know what I'm comfortable with out there.''

Evgeni Nabokov made 30 saves for San Jose, and Giguere had 36 for Anaheim.

Rookie Bobby Bryan put the Ducks ahead with his goal in the first period, with Doug Weight getting an assist in his Anaheim debut. Torrey Mitchell tied it 1-1 with a short-handed goal in the second period.

Weight came over in the deal Friday that sent Andy McDonald and his three-year, $10 million contract to St. Louis, which allowed Anaheim to clear salary cap space for Niedermayer.

``I was excited all night for two nights (after the trade) and I was excited all afternoon,'' Weight said. ``I will get some rest tonight.''

Coyotes 5, Rangers 1

In New York, Wayne Gretzky returned to Madison Square Garden for the first time behind the Phoenix bench and saw his club rout his former team.

Joel Perrault had two goals and an assist, and Ilya Bryzgalov made 34 saves for the Coyotes.

Daniel Carcillo, Radim Vrbata, Fredrik Sjostrom and Perrault all scored in the second period when the Coyotes blew the game open with four goals on 11 shots.

Devils 4, Flyers 2

In Newark, N.J., John Madden scored two goals and Martin Brodeur made 29 saves, including a game-turning penalty shot stop, to lead New Jersey.

Arron Asham and Jamie Langenbrunner also scored for the Devils, who have won 10 straight from the Flyers in New Jersey. Philadelphia last won in New Jersey on March 9, 2004.

Mike Richards and Daniel Briere scored for the Flyers.

Flames 5, Blues 3

In St. Louis, Jarome Iginla, Kristian Huselius and Daymond Langkow combined for 12 points, and Calgary won its fifth in a row on a six-game road trip.

Iginla had two goals and two assists, Huselius scored a goal and added four assists and Langkow added two goals and an assist for the Flames.

Andy McDonald scored a goal and added an assist in his St. Louis debut.

Panthers 3, Blackhawks 1

In Chicago, Jay Bouwmeester had a goal and an assist to end an eight-game stretch without a point, and Tomas Vokoun made 44 stops for Florida.

Rostislav Olesz and Richard Zednik also scored for the Panthers.

Rookie Dave Bolland, who scored his first NHL goal, was the only Blackhawk to beat Vokoun as Chicago outshot Florida 45-24.