Watch Joe Thornton score 400th goal to give Sharks win over Predators

NBC Sports California

Watch Joe Thornton score 400th goal to give Sharks win over Predators

Joe Thornton saved a major milestone for an important moment. 

The Sharks center scored his 400th career goal Tuesday night, and gave San Jose a 5-4 win over the visiting Nashville Predators.

Marcus Sorensen entered the offensive zone and hit Thornton with a cross-ice pass that was, well, Thornton-like. 

Thornton scored just 13 seconds after linemate Joe Pavelski tied the score. No. 400, then, was also game-winner No. 63 of Thornton's two-decade career.

Thornton's goal moved him into elite company, too. He became just the 11th player in NHL history to score at least 400 goals and add 1,000 assists, joining the likes of some of hockey's immortals. 

Each of those players, save for the 46-year-old (and still-active) Jaromir Jagr, is in the Hockey Hall of Fame. When Thornton finally calls it a career, it's fair to say he'll join them soon after.

Sharks not surprised by late-game tussles in blowout win over Penguins

Sharks not surprised by late-game tussles in blowout win over Penguins

Even though the Sharks and Penguins only play each other twice a season, things tend to get a bit chippy when they meet up on the ice. The bad blood no doubt stems from when these teams faced off in the Stanley Cup Final in 2016. And boy, did the fists fly in the third period of Thursday’s game in Pittsburgh.

Fans watching at home almost missed the line brawl that took place in front of Pittsburgh’s bench during a TV timeout in the last four-plus minutes of regulation. Evander Kane, Brenden Dillon, and newly-reacquired forward Micheal Haley began pushing and shoving with members of the Penguins, and things quickly escalated. The ordeal ended with Haley coming to Dillon’s defense and shoving Penguins’ captain Sidney Crosby down onto the ice. 

Haley -- known for his physicality and holding opposing players accountable for their actions -- chuckled about the scuffle afterward.

“It seems to happen whenever I’m on the ice, which is a good thing I guess,” he told the press after the game. “I have no idea actually how (it started). I saw Kane over there with one of their guys and came over, and it doesn’t take long for things to ignite. And then you’re in the box.”

Haley may not have known how the debacle he was part of got started, but Kane admitted in his postgame interview that he might have gotten the scuffle going when he went by Pittsburgh’s bench.

“I was just checking out the play they were running because I could see the board pretty clearly,” he answered honestly. “I guess they didn’t like that very much and wanted to take exception -- and I was happy to oblige.” 

Whatever the reason was for the escalated incident, Sharks’ head coach Peter DeBoer admitted afterward that he could understand where the Penguins were coming from.

“We’ve been on the other end of those,” DeBoer said. “You’re down three-or-four-nothing and there’s frustration. Those things happen.”

[RELATED: What we learned in Sharks' shutout victory over Penguins]

The fisticuffs ended with four skaters leaving the ice with game misconduct penalties and Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan getting tossed for inflammatory language. Seconds after the next faceoff, the Sharks drew a penalty and Brent Burns scored the nail-in-the-coffin power-play goal that put the finishing touches on San Jose's 4-0 victory. While the Sharks likely don’t want to be getting in full-on line brawls every evening, at least things went in their favor in the end. 

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in dominant 4-0 win vs. Penguins

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in dominant 4-0 win vs. Penguins

The Sharks were looking to rebound from a disappointing loss earlier in the week, and they did just that on Thursday evening. San Jose rallied behind Tomas Hertl’s two-goal effort and held on through some late-game fisticuffs to shut out the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-0.

Here are three takeaways from Thursday’s game:

San Jose’s special teams deserved a star on the evening

Both the power play and penalty kill played a huge role in San Jose’s victory, helping to keep the momentum in their favor for the duration of the game. The Sharks started off the game getting a ton of offensive zone time and they doubled down on keeping it that way, thanks to Hertl’s two power-play markers in the first frame.

The penalty kill seemed to get more impressive as the game went on. While Evander Kane’s short-handed goal was a highlight, Martin Jones deserves a lot of credit for standing tall when the Sharks were shorthanded. His stop on Sidney Crosby at the end of the second period helped to keep Pittsburgh frustrated and off the board.

Burns and Simek were on top of their game

The duo was absolutely nails against Pittsburgh. They did a standout job breaking up plays in the Sharks’ defensive zone to help stop the Penguins from creating any momentum and capitalizing. Burns having a three-point night with a late power-play goal and two assists didn’t hurt either.

In doing good work in San Jose territory, Burns also helped set up Kane’s breakaway on the penalty kill that resulted in a short-handed goal. His mix of both offensive and defensive play on Thursday was a perfect example of why he’s in the Norris Trophy discussion.

Thornton has wheels

Jumbo Joe didn’t tally another hat trick, but boy did he put on a show by preventing a goal for the opposition. He easily had the most memorable play of the night, speeding up to prevent Evgeni Malkin from having an opportunity to score on a breakaway coming out of the penalty box.

A lot of attention is given to the milestones Thornton has been reaching, and rightfully so, but plays like that are equally impressive. Considering Thornton missed a few games at the start of the season with knee issues, being able to keep pace with a faster, younger skater like Malkin is a sight to see.