Joe Thornton's series-winning goal for the Sharks on Monday night has drawn rave reviews. Now the votes are in regarding his celebratory reaction.

A 2.3 for Technical Merit.

A 3.1 for Artistic Impression.

A perfect 9.0 for Demonstration of Unbridled Emotion He Probably Had No Idea Was Lurking Just Below the Surface.

Odds are you have seen it a couple dozen times by now, but let's review: First Thornton made a deft spinning pickup of a deflected pass in front of the Los Angeles Kings' net. Then he whipped it past goalie Jonathan Quick, who had been lured hopelessly out of position by the pinballing puck.

With the game won and the series in the bag, with the first postseason overtime goal of his NHL career in the record book, Thornton made a dash for center ice, then flopped on his back in something of a reverse turtle. He skidded along like a little kid -- OK, like a great, big little kid -- with his hands thrown back and his knees in the air. The most accurate way to describe it is with an adjective that probably has never been attached to Thornton's name:

Giddy.

The Thornton you know is stoic to the point of being deadpan. In the more relaxed environment of the locker room you're more apt to see a quick smile and hear some easy banter. But when it comes to hockey, he has no unguarded moments. And this you probably can trace to 1993-94, when at age 14 he scored 83 goals in 67 games in his first season of minor hockey.

So it began for a guy who has since been perceived as the best player on his team.

The perception is almost irresistible. Thornton is big, strong and skilled. He was so irresistible to the Boston Bruins that they made him the first overall pick in the 1997 draft. He was 17.

Eleven days before the draft, certain of their choice, the Bruins paraded Thornton around Boston as if he were a prized stallion or an elephant that could balance atop a large ball. Here's how the Associated Press account of that event began:

"Seven minicams and a dozen reporters surrounded the 17-year-old kid with the flowing, dirty-blond hair, a gee-whiz smile and a world of hockey talent."