CHICAGO -- Patrick Marleau had a smile on his face throughout his postgame talk.
The 40-year-old forward was already happy to be back for his 20th season with the San Jose Sharks, with whom he signed a one-year contract Wednesday. Scoring two goals in his first game made it that much more special.
"Just to be able to contribute like that, you feel good," Marleau said after the Sharks defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 at United Center on Thursday. "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."
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Marleau has 510 goals and 1,084 points in 1,494 games with the Sharks (1-4-0), who avoided the worst start in their history. After scoring five goals in the first four games, San Jose scored that many against Chicago. And the return of Marleau, who played in his 789th consecutive regular-season game, provided a lift.
"I mean, what can you say about an athlete like that? No training camp, no exhibition games, and show up and play a game like that, and give us a boost at a critical time," Sharks coach Pete DeBoer said of Marleau, who had his first practice Wednesday. "That's why he's the player he is."
Defenseman Brent Burns scored his 200th NHL goal, and Aaron Dell made the save on 26 of 30 shots. Forward Joe Thornton set up Barclay Goodrow's game-winning goal 4:47 into the third period.
Marleau hadn't played since the 2019 Eastern Conference First Round, when he was with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He showed no signs of rust and gave much of the credit to center Logan Couture and right wing Timo Meier, who played on the first line with him. Couture said he felt comfortable with Marleau from the start.
Video: SJS@CHI: Marleau nets PPG in his return to the Sharks
"I mean, he played great," Couture said. "I told him, 'It's great to play with you.' It felt like he hadn't left, like [it was] three years ago when he and I were together for a couple of years. I knew where he was on the ice, I think he felt he knew where I was. Just felt comfortable with him out there. I thought he looked great."
Marleau's first goal was a deflection of defenseman Erik Karlsson's shot on the Sharks' second power play to tie the game 2-2 with 17 seconds remaining in the first period. His second goal came when he got to the rebound of Meier's shot, tying the game 4-4 with 2:14 remaining in the second period.
"I think having Patty come in here, he's just such an unbelievable skater and creates so much, he's so strong on the puck," Burns said. "It was great to see him have a huge night and I know it meant a lot to his family and him to be back, and the fans, too. It's fun to see him back, and he was great."
Marleau was merely being his reliable, productive self.
"I've just seen it so many times and it just puts a smile on my face," Thornton said. "Getting a 500-goal scorer five games into the year was huge for us. It was the boost we needed tonight."