Mario Lemieux

How Patrick Marleau's four-goal period connected him to Mario Lemieux

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AP

How Patrick Marleau's four-goal period connected him to Mario Lemieux

Programming note: Watch the re-air of Patrick Marleau's four-goal third period in the Sharks' 2017 win over the Colorado Avalanche tonight at 8 p.m. PT on NBC Sports California.

When Tomas Hertl scored four goals in his third career game, he became the third-youngest player in NHL history to accomplish the feat. When Patrick Marleau matched him three seasons later, the Sharks' all-time leader in goals, points and games played became the second-oldest in league history to do it, and the eldest ever to notch four goals in a win.

As of now, there have been 280 separate instances throughout NHL history in which a player has scored four goals in a single game. Of those 280, only 12 times has a player scored all four goals in a single period. Marleau was the 12th to add his name to that impressive list on Jan. 23, 2017 and the first to do it in almost precisely two decades.

Before Marleau scored four times against the Colorado Avalanche in the third period of San Jose's 5-2 victory that night -- including the first three in a span of 7:42 -- Pittsburgh Penguins Hall of Famer and co-owner/chairman Mario Lemieux was the most recent to do it, having scored four -- also in the third period of an eventual 5-2 win -- against the Montreal Canadiens back on Jan. 26, 1997. Lemieux, of course, recently acquired Marleau at the NHL trade deadline.

After Brent Burns got the Sharks on the board in the first period, Marleau provided all of the offense from that point on, and did so in a variety of ways.

His first goal came by way of a deflection. The second, on a wrap-around. For his natural hat trick, Marleau finished off a perfectly executed 2-on-1, and to etch his name in the record books, he capitalized on a breakaway.

Don't remember? Don't worry.

Tonight at 8 p.m., Marleau's standout performance -- in which he ended up with his fifth career regular-season hat trick, and moved within three goals of 500 -- will be re-aired on NBC Sports California. He has failed to score three goals -- much less four -- in any game since, but now sits at 562 career goals, which ranks 25th all time in NHL history.

Much as Marleau's return to the Sharks at the beginning of the current season provided San Jose and its fans with a much-needed feel-good development, so too can the re-airing of his memorable game be seen in the same light. With the NHL season currently paused due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we can all use a reminder of happier times right now.

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Watching arguably the most beloved player in Sharks franchise history do something that might never be topped?

Yeah, that'll do.