Joe Pavelski

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in memorable 2-1 win over Stars

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USATSI

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in memorable 2-1 win over Stars

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE -- Facing the Dallas Stars for the first time this season on Saturday night, the Sharks posted their second straight win at SAP Center, this time by a score of 2-1. San Jose fell behind early, as the Stars scored within first two minutes of the game, but goalie Aaron Dell didn't let anything past him for the remainder of the contest while the Sharks stormed back.

It was a memorable night for Sharks fans, as not one but two former captains hit milestones. One was facing his former team for the very first time, while the other played in his 1,700th career game.

With the win, San Jose achieved the maximum four possible points on this brief two-game homestand.

Here are the takeaways from a tightly-fought, entertaining game:

The former captain

Even before he took the ice Saturday night, all eyes were on Joe Pavelski. The Stars' forward returned to the only arena he had ever called home prior to the current season, and conceded that it would be a tad "awkward" to face the teal sweaters rather than be wearing one. There was no awkwardness whatsover, though, when a video tribute covering memories from Pavelski's 13 seasons with the Sharks was played on the jumbotron before puck drop. The SAP Center crowd responded with a very long, very loud standing ovation, and gave him several loud cheers at different points of the game.

Once the game started, however, Pavelski was all business -- as you'd expect. He played over 18 minutes of ice time, won nearly two-thirds of his face-offs, recorded two shots on goal and blocked three. San Jose managed to keep him off the scoresheet, but there definitely were plays he made that looked awfully familiar.

Fitting with the theme of the night, Sharks forward Stefan Noesen appeared to score a very Pavelski-like goal in the first period with a tip-in deflection, but it was immediately waved off due to a high touch.

The other former captain

The spotlight was on Pavelski, but Patrick Marleau stole some of it.

He became just the fifth player in NHL history to play in 1,700 career games, but Marleau wasn't some uninvolved bystander. Quite the opposite, actually. He was flying around the ice all night, and was rewarded for his efforts when he punched in a rebound in the second period to give the Sharks a 2-1 lead. Of the players to appear in 1,700 games, Marleau is the only one to score in the milestone game.

He might not move quite like he used to, but Marleau can still absolutely fly. Not bad for a 40-year-old.

The alternate captain

The Sharks got a big scare when defenseman Brent Burns went to the locker room in the second period following a collision with Dallas winger Roope Hintz. Burns did not return to the ice for the remainder of the period, nor was he there for the start of the third period. He did return, however, midway through the third, and managed to come up with a couple big stops to keep San Jose in front.

After seeing the current captain Logan Couture suffer a fractured ankle a couple games ago, the Sharks can ill afford to lose another major contributor for any period of time.

Watch Joe Pavelski receive standing ovation ahead of Sharks-Stars game

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AP

Watch Joe Pavelski receive standing ovation ahead of Sharks-Stars game

SAN JOSE -- Well, that was emotional -- as expected.

Former Sharks captain Joe Pavelski received a very loud, very long standing ovation from the entire SAP Center crowd ahead of San Jose's game against the Dallas Stars on Saturday night.

Facing the Sharks as an opposing player for the very first time, Pavelski received several cheers throughout pregame warmups, with each one louder than the last. It culminated with a video tribute on the jumbotron in which memorable moments from Pavelski's 13-season tenure with the franchise were on display. Following the tribute, Pavelski skated out into the middle of the ice as cheers rained down from the stands.

[RELATED: How Sharks have missed Pavelski on, off ice]

Pavelski acknowledged it would be "awkward" to play against the only franchise he had ever been a part of prior to this season, and surely he had some goosebumps. He seemed to thoroughly appreciate the acknowledgment from the fans, and clearly, they appreciated all Pavelski has done for the team over the years.

How Sharks have missed Joe Pavelski's presence both on and off the ice

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AP

How Sharks have missed Joe Pavelski's presence both on and off the ice

SAN JOSE -- Thursday was the rehearsal. Saturday is the real thing.

The Sharks welcomed back a former player in their win over the Blue Jackets on Thursday night, but no offense to Gus Nyquist -- it was just another game for San Jose.

The same cannot be said for Saturday night's bout against Joe Pavelski and the visiting Dallas Stars.

After playing 963 games in a Sharks uniform, Pavelski returns to SAP Center on Saturday night as a visiting player for the very first time. Arguably the most beloved captain in franchise history, Pavelski was signed by Dallas in free agency after he and the Sharks failed to reach a contract agreement. No ill will is harbored on either side -- quite the opposite, actually -- and his absence has been felt throughout what has been an atypically down season in San Jose.

Throughout Pavelski's 13 seasons with the Sharks, the team failed to qualify for the postseason only once and never posted a points percentage lower than 54.3 percent. Currently, San Jose is well off the pace to qualify for the playoffs and has totaled only 47.8 percent of its maximum possible points thus far. Part of the problem has been the offense, as the Sharks are scoring nearly one fewer goal per game this season (2.65) than they did last year (3.52). That might be the area where Pavelski's absence has been most evident, but the Sharks certainly have missed their former captain's presence off the ice, as well.

"A guy like that is very, very tough to replace," Sharks interim head coach Bob Boughner said of Pavelski following San Jose's morning skate Saturday. "I think more than anything, it's the friendships and the bonds he had in the dressing room. And listening to some of the player's comments the last couple days about how hard he worked and how he prepared and how he kept guys accountable, you can never have enough guys like that.

"The guys that are doing it now have done a good job, but Pavs was a guy that everybody looked up to and had a lot of respect for."

It's not as if there's a leadership vacuum in San Jose's locker room this season. There's an ample number of veterans ready and willing to carry the torch, but with the Sharks in somewhat of a transitional phase, Pavelski remains a model for which some of the next wave of team leaders can still learn from.

"Being around [Joe Thornton] and [Patrick] Marleau, the guys have a couple great examples there," Boughner added. "More than anything, it's [Pavelski's] leadership. It's how he handles himself in the dressing room, in the community and things like that. I think guys like [Logan Couture] and [Tomas] Hertl and Timo Meier and [Kevin Labanc] -- those are the guys that could really try to emulate what kind of guy he was off the ice."

[RELATED: Pavelski believes skill, character will help Sharks rebound]

Right now, "off the ice" describes all that Couture is able to do. A fractured ankle suffered in Tuesday's loss to the St. Louis Blues will keep him out for several weeks, further exacerbating the Sharks' lack of offense, as he ranks fourth on the team in goals (14) and is tied for second in assists (22). Similar to Pavelski, the impact of Couture's absence is likely to be readily apparent before long, but as Boughner explained, it's no coincidence that San Jose's current captain took over the 'C' from the previous one.

"They're their own individuals when it comes to their games," Boughner said, "but [Couture] is probably the guy that you could say is responsible in all three zones and plays the right way and plays a lot like Pavs."

Neither Couture nor Pavelski will be wearing a Sharks sweater when San Jose takes the ice Saturday night. For everyone involved, that's going to take some getting used to.