San Jose Sharks' Joe Thornton passes Gordie Howe in all-time assists

Feb. 12 (UPI) — San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton continued his climb up the NHL’s all-time assists list Monday night against the Vancouver Canucks.

Thornton passed Hall of Fame forward Gordie Howe for ninth in assists in NHL history. The veteran forward picked up his 1,050th career assist when he set up Kevin Labanc’s goal in the second period.

The Sharks’ contest against the Canucks marked Thornton’s 1,541st regular-season game, passing Shane Doan and Johnny Bucyk for 15th in NHL history. Thornton’s assist on Labanc’s score was the 1,457 point of his career, tying him with Teemu Selanne for 15th in the league’s record books.

“Growing up close to Detroit, my brother is a huge Red Wings fan, my dad was a huge Gordie fan,” Thornton said. “I had the honor to meet Gordie a couple of times; he took the time to talk to me and it meant the world to me, to pass a guy like that, very humbling. I really don’t deserve to be in the same breath as him. Yeah, It’s a special moment.”

The Sharks defeated the Canucks 7-2 for their sixth straight win. San Jose (34-16-7) moved into first place in the Western Conference with 75 points.

San Jose plays the Washington Capitals (31-18-7) Thursday night.

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