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Thornton the teal deal

Joe Thornton had a goal and an assist in his sixth straight multipoint performance, and the Sharks remained unbeaten in six games since his arrival with a 4-1 victory over the Washington Capitals last night in San Jose, Calif.

Jonathan Cheechoo, Alyn McCauley, and rookie Milan Michalek also scored for the Sharks, who returned from five days off with the same flair and passion they've shown ever since Thornton was acquired from the Bruins Nov. 30.

Thornton set up Cheechoo's team-leading 13th goal and then scored in the first period, and the Sharks weathered Washington's strong third period to finish their ninth consecutive victory over the Capitals. McCauley clinched it with his eighth goal on a pass from captain Patrick Marleau with 4:16 to play.

Thornton has 14 points in his six games in teal.

Sabres 4, Penguins 3 -- Chris Drury scored on a rebound in overtime and Martin Biron became the first NHL goalie since New Jersey's Martin Brodeur in 1997-98 to win 12 consecutive starts, as visiting Buffalo ruined Michel Therrien's debut as Pittsburgh coach.

Drury and Ales Kotalik each had a power-play goal and two assists as the Sabres won their fifth in a row and 13th in 15 games despite allowing Ziggy Palffy's tying goal with 2:17 left in regulation.

Palffy returned after missing four games and most of a fifth with a sore groin, and was immediately put by Therrien on the top line with Sidney Crosby, in his first game as alternate captain, and Mario Lemieux, who returned after sitting out four games with an irregular heartbeat that hospitalized him briefly.

Kings 4, Mighty Ducks 3 -- Petr Kanko, playing in place of scratched Luc Robitaille, scored the tying goal in his NHL debut and Los Angeles beat host Anaheim in a shootout.

Pavol Demitra and Alexander Frolov scored the only goals in the shootout. Mathieu Garon made 42 saves and stopped Teemu Selanne and Scott Niedermayer in the NHL's new tiebreaker -- the first between the Southern California rivals.

Blackhawks 5, Blues 1 -- Mark Bell and former Bruins Martin Lapointe and Andy Hilbert each had a goal and an assist, and Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 32 shots to lead host Chicago over St. Louis.

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