Joe Pavelski showed in Game 1 on Wednesday night why he’s the captain of the San Jose Sharks back in 2015 and ran away with the role ever since. Pavelski perfectly exhibited what playoff mode means to Team Teal.
The San Jose Sharks defeated the Vegas Golden Knights 5-2 in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals on Wednesday night. Joe Pavelski opened up the scoring with just over five minutes to play in the first period on the Sharks first power play of the night when a hard wrist shot from Brent Burns deflected straight off his jaw and into the net. Pavs, without any celebration of his goal, skated straight to the locker room in clear pain.
While in the San Jose Sharks’ dressing room, Pavelski underwent the NHL’s concussion protocol and received a couple of stitches along with suffering a couple of missing teeth from being struck with the shot. These things didn’t hold the captain back from getting back into action.
Joe Pavelski would not return from the locker room for the remaining five minutes of the first period, leaving Sharks fans worried. He eventually returned to the Sharks’ bench a couple of shifts into the second period with a jaw protector attached to his helmet and welcomed back with a huge ovation from the crowd.
The busted lip, bloody mouthed captain returning to the game showed everyone watching the type of captain and leader that Pavelski is. His toughness and relentlessness caught the attention of his teammates and created a spark.
Shortly after Pavelski returned, he got checked in the back by Brayden McNabb in front of the Vegas net leading to him and Marc-Andre Fleury getting tangled up. While Pavs was down on the ice, Nate Schmidt stumbled over him resulting in a questionable tripping call on Pavelski causing him to voice his frustrations. This was the point in the game where the Sharks started to turn it on.
Not long after the tripping call on Pavelski, Brent Burns sent a wrist shot past Fleury during 3-on-3 play to give the Sharks a 2-0 lead. Not even a minute after Burns’ goal, Joe Thornton dished out a centering pass to a cutting Marc-Edouard Vlasic who buried a wrist shot from the slot past Fleury to give the Sharks a 3-0 lead during 4-on-4 play.
Pavelski’s toughness was also on display early in the third period when Nick Holden slashed him and instead of shaking it off and letting Vegas touch up, he crawled towards the loose puck to try and give the Sharks some extra time on the man advantage.
Joe Pavelski’s leadership and toughness was seen throughout Game 1 as he returned from a gruesome shot to the face and created a spark that propelled the Sharks to a scoring outburst. Pavelski showed during the biggest time of the season what a true captain and leader looks like.
The Captain was an absolute warrior in Game 1 and has set the tone for the rest of the team moving forward with his inspiring play. He showed how bad he wants to win and that can be very contagious in a locker room during this time of year especially when the team sees the captain sacrificing it all.
Pavelski and the Sharks will look to take a 2-0 series lead on the Golden Knights tonight at the SAP Center for Game 2.