SAN JOSE, Calif. -- If Joe Thornton keeps this up, he will quickly shed any lingering disappointment about being traded.
He certainly made a memorable first splash in the Shark Tank.
Thornton assisted on his new team's first goal, then scored later in the opening period to lead the Sharks to their third straight victory in his home debut, 5-3, over Atlanta late Tuesday in San Jose.
Thornton had a pair of assists in each of his first two games with the Sharks and already has six points for rejuvenated San Jose since being acquired last Wednesday from Boston in a blockbuster deal that sent Marco Sturm, Brad Stuart, and Wayne Primeau to the Bruins.
''We're 3-0 and scored 15 goals since we picked up Thornton," Sharks coach Ron Wilson said. ''It's kind of nice the things you were hoping would happen with the trade have."
Thornton passed to Jonathan Cheechoo 2:56 into the game for a power-play goal and Cheechoo's 10th score of the season. Then Scott Thornton -- Joe's cousin -- hit Joe for a goal with a two-man advantage with 6:40 left in the first period.
The crowd went wild after Scott Thornton pulled goaltender Michael Garnett to his right side and quickly passed to Joe, who tapped the puck in from close range.
''Scotty just kind of slipped it over to me and there was an open net," the former Bruins captain said. ''It's nice to find the back of the net in the first home game. It's nice how the fans welcomed me and the city. That gave me a boost to start the game."
After Cheechoo's opening goal, the Sharks found the net again 70 seconds later on Rob Davison's first goal of the year. Davison took a pass from Alyn McCauley, who extended his point streak to five games. McCauley also assisted on Tom Preissing's second-period score.
Joe Thornton, 26, received a roaring ovation when the starting lineups were announced -- and after this performance, everything points to the soft-spoken center being a huge hit in his new home. He is quickly providing a glimpse of what could be a promising run with him leading San Jose's offense. He made a quick curtain call after being announced as player of the game, much to the joy of the 15,812 fans. ''He's a playmaker," Wilson said before the game. ''He makes others around him better."
The Sharks had lost five straight at home, but Thornton helped San Jose to its first victory on their own ice since a 3-2 overtime win over Nashville Nov. 2.
Sharks general manager Doug Wilson first saw Joe Thornton during the world juniors tournament in 1997, when Wilson was on Canada's player selection committee. ''It was a lasting impression," Wilson said between the first and second periods Tuesday. ''We're trying to put all the pieces together to win a Stanley Cup. . . . The thing that excites me is to get a guy who has accomplished what he's accomplished, I think his best hockey is ahead of him. When this came available, it's rare you get a guy who's in his prime. To be a championship team, you have to be dominant down the middle."
Nils Ekman also scored for the Sharks, faking out Garnett and shooting around him into the corner of the net for his fourth goal.