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Late Sharks strikes sink Bruins

THE San Jose Sharks overwhelmed the Boston Bruins with four third-period goals for a 5-2 victory on Tuesday, as the West got the better of the East in a matchup of the NHL's top two teams.

San Jose's Patrick Marleau, Milan Michalek, Joe Thornton and Mike Grier scored successive goals to snap a three-game losing streak for the Western Conference leaders.

Marleau leveled the score at 2-2 - 3:32 into the final period and Michalek provided the game-winner four minutes later on a wrist shot over Boston netminder Tim Thomas's left shoulder into the top right corner of the net.

Former Bruin Thornton made it 4-2 before Grier, a former Boston college player, added an empty-netter in the closing seconds.

The game marked the first time Thornton, a former Bruins captain, had played in Boston in three years and he frequently heard boos from the home crowd.

"I had fun with it," Thornton told reporters. "I love coming back here. It's a great city and it was a great game. Two good teams went at it ... it was nice."

Boston, the Eastern Conference leader, held a 2-1 lead after the first period on two Milan Lucic goals sandwiched around Rob Blake's power-play score for San Jose.

The Bruins failed on five power-play opportunities including a 5-on-3.

"Our power play is certainly not helping us right now," Bruins coach Claude Julien told reporters.

"We've been good for most of the year, but the last little while, we haven't been on."

The loss was the first time this season the NHL's top club had been defeated by more than two goals.

"If you lose to a good team, it's a loss you can take if you played hard," Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference told reporters.

"The disappointing thing is having a lead and not continuing what you're good at. That doesn't sit well."

San Jose's Ryane Clowe had three assists and Marleau two.

Evgeni Nabokov saved 28 shots for the Sharks with the Bruins' Thomas stopping 26.

In Columbus, Ohio, Dan LaCosta made 31 saves, including a toe stop on Marek Svatos with seconds remaining, for his first career shutout in his second NHL start as the Blue Jackets topped the Avalanche 3-0.

First start

LaCosta, who won his first start Saturday, played again because rookie Steve Mason is out due to mononucleosis and regular backup Wade Dubielewicz had the flu.

Andrew Murray, Jason Williams and Fredrik Modin scored third-period goals and Jan Hejda added two assists for Columbus, which swept the season series (4-0) from Colorado for the first time.

In Uniondale, New York, Jack Johnson scored the only goal of the shootout in the final round as Los Angeles beat the New York Islanders 4-3.

Johnson faked a forehand and got Yann Danis to move before he slipped in a backhander net to give the Kings their fourth straight win.

Wayne Simmonds, Anze Kopitar and Alexander Frolov scored for the Kings. Jonathan Quick, who started his eight straight game, turned aside 22 shots.

The Islanders got regulation goals from Doug Weight, Tim Jackman and Andy Hilbert. Danis stopped 36 shots for the Islanders, who lost their third straight after a four-game winning streak.

Elsewhere, it was: Panthers 5, Maple Leafs 4, OT; Thrashers 3, Lightning 1; Red Wings 5, Predators 3; and Canucks 6, Blues 4.


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