Now to see what Patrick Marleau can do for an encore, and whether the San Jose Sharks can build on their first victory of the season.
After a memorable return to the Sharks, in which the 40-year-old scored twice in a 5-4 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday, Marleau and his teammates will play host to the Calgary Flames on Sunday night.
Even though he’s a veteran of 1,658 regular season games, Marleau must still be skating on air thinking of his return to the Sharks after two seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“Just to be able to contribute like that, you feel good,” said Marleau, who spent 19 seasons in San Jose before leaving as a free agent in the summer of 2017. “But I would’ve taken the two points over anything. It was just so exciting to be back and playing and being with this bunch of guys.”
The Sharks were more than thrilled to have Marleau, the franchise’s all-time leader in games (1,494), goals (510) and points (1,084), in the fold, too. After dropping their first four games — all in regulation time by a combined margin of 17-5 — his return helped spark a much-needed victory before the Sharks could set a new mark for the worst start in franchise history.
“He’s a goal-scorer. That’s what he does,” forward Joe Thornton said of Marleau, who played his 789th consecutive game, the second-longest active streak behind Florida Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle (800) and the sixth-longest in NHL history. “Getting a 500-goal scorer five games into the year was huge for us. It was the boost we needed.”
His team also received another boost against the Blackhawks: an effective power play. After starting the season 0-for-15 over three-plus games, the Sharks have found the mark in three of their last five man-advantage opportunities, including twice in Chicago.
“You knew it was kind of coming, just things weren’t going in,” Thornton told the San Jose Mercury News. “It was just a matter of time.”
The Flames arrive after a 6-2 road loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday night, a game in which they stumbled out of the gate and then blew a 2-1 lead.
“First period wasn’t good enough,” defenseman Rasmus Andersson told 960 The Fan. “The second period was way better, at least the first 10, 15 minutes, but they scored two quick ones. We’ve got to play better for 60 minutes here.”
The incomplete effort has been an ongoing theme for the Flames this young season, and a big reason last year’s Western Conference regular-season champions are a middling club (at 2-2-1) after five games.
“We have moments we’re really good, but we can’t keep it up for 60 minutes,” said Andersson, who scored on Saturday. “We have to figure it out here, start better and finish it off better.”
Goalie Cam Talbot is pegged to make his Flames debut against the Sharks. Talbot was signed to a one-year contract as a free agent in July. David Rittich started the first five games.
Meanwhile, the Sharks will go with veteran Martin Jones in goal. Jones has struggled to start the year, with a 4.56 goals-against average and .854 save percentage in his three starts, all losses.
–Field Level Media