Washington at Atlanta (7 p.m. EDT). The Thrashers are four points behind Tampa Bay for eighth in the Eastern Conference.

STARS

Wednesday

_ Joe Thornton, Sharks, assisted on four goals, including one in overtime to give San Jose a 5-4 win over Vancouver.

_ Tim Connolly, Sabres, had a goal and assist to lead Buffalo over Montreal 3-1.

TIGER SHARK

San Jose clinched a playoff spot by beating Vancouver 5-4 in overtime on Wednesday night. Joe Thornton had four assists, increasing his NHL-leading total to 91. San Jose was 8-12-4 before acquiring Thornton in a blockbuster trade with the Boston Bruins on Nov. 30. The Sharks are 34-14-7 since the arrival of Thornton, who has tallied 86 of his 119 points since coming to San Jose.

JUST LIKE OLD TIMES

Buffalo (49-24-6) tied a franchise record for victories set in 1974-75 by beating Montreal 3-1 Wednesday night.

SPEAKING

``We let him skate from one end to the other without touching him. A Bantam player could have skated up the ice and made a play. We respected him way too much, way too much. That's the bottom line.'' _ Vancouver defenseman Ed Jovanovski on Joe Thornton, who had four assists in San Jose's 5-4 overtime victory over the Canucks on Wednesday night. The Sharks clinched a playoff berth with the victory.