After suffering a scary injury in the prior round that had sidelined him for two weeks, San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski was making his emotional return in Game 7 of the second-round matchup against the Colorado Avalanche.
In a near-storybook moment, Pavelski opened the scoring in the first period with a great deflection goal.
Pavelski was cruising in the middle of the faceoff circle when he got a tip on a Brent Burns shot. That redirected the puck and sent it past Colorado goaltender Philipp Grubauer, who was moving the opposite direction. The score gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead at 5:57, and Pavelski let the emotion show when it went in.
The Sharks captain, who has been on the team since 2006, hadn't played since suffering a concussion in a scary fall in Game 7 of the series against the Vegas Golden Knights. The moment proved to be the turning point in that game, as the cross-check that led to Pavelski's fall, which also caused bleeding from the head, earned Cody Eakin a controversial 5-minute major penalty. The Sharks scored four times on the ensuing power play to erase a 3-0 deficit and eventually won 5-4 in overtime.
San Jose Sharks center Joe Pavelski celebrates after scoring a goal against the Colorado Avalanche in Game 7. (Photo: Josie Lepe, AP)
But the Sharks had been without Pavelski ever since as they played the first six games against the Avalanche. Back in this Game 7, Pavelski wasted little time making his presence felt with a berth in the Western Conference final on the line.
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