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Thornton (4 assists) helps Sharks clinch berth

Joe Thornton assisted on four goals, including Christian Ehrhoff's winner 34 seconds into overtime, and the San Jose Sharks earned a playoff spot with a 5-4 victory last night over the Canucks in Vancouver.

Thornton, who also set up Scott Hannan's tying goal with 4:03 left in the third period, went end to end before peeling off in the corner and spotting Ehrhoff alone in the slot. The Sharks defenseman snapped a quick shot over the glove of Alex Auld as the Sharks won their sixth straight, finally ending a long, unlikely comeback from early season struggles.

The Sharks' turnaround started with Thornton's arrival. San Jose was 8-12-4 before adding him in a blockbuster trade with the Bruins Nov. 30. The Sharks are 34-14-7 since, with Thornton collecting 86 of his 119 points -- second most in the NHL -- since arriving in San Jose.

Few were more important than his four assists against the Canucks. After falling behind, 2-0, Thornton set up a pair of goals with pretty passes, rallying the Sharks before the first period ended.

Sabres 3, Canadians 1 -- Daniel Briere faked out defenseman Sheldon Souray, and then did the same to goalie Cristobal Huet to score on a breathtaking rush, sealing host Buffalo's win over Montreal.

Tim Connolly had a goal and assist and Maxim Afinogenov set up two goals for Buffalo.

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