As the San Jose Sharks work to maintain their place atop the Pacific Division standings, forward Patrick Marleau has done his part to protect first place, while reaching a significant milestone along the way.
On Thursday, February 2, Patrick Marleau's first period goal at the Vancouver Canucks was the 500th of his NHL career.
With his first 500 goals coming during his tenure with the Sharks, a mark that has been reached on only 16 other occasions in NHL history, it seems rather appropriate to look back upon some of Marleau's most memorable goals throughout his career (including the playoffs) and be reminded of how he got to where he is today:
The First of 500
Months after becoming the youngest player drafted at the 1997 NHL Entry Draft and barely 18 years old at the time, Marleau netted his first career goal against Coyotes netminder Nikolai Khabibulin on October 19, 1997. It was just his seventh career game and made him the second-youngest player (Grant Mulvey) to score a regular season goal since the end of World War II.
Two Hat Tricks in the Postseason
Although Marleau's 500-goal plateau does not include his 65 career playoff tallies, which is also a team record, No. 12 has played an instrumental part in San Jose's postseason history. During the Western Conference Semifinal on April 22, 2004 versus the Colorado Avalanche, Marleau's third goal of the game was not his first, but second hat trick of the playoffs.
Career-high for Goals
It was the last game of the 2009-10 regular season, as the Sharks faced-off against Phoenix. With less than eight minutes remaining in the second period, Marleau helped San Jose take the lead with his 44th goal of the season. That goal still stands as his career-high and tied him with Owen Nolan for the second-highest goal total in Sharks history. His 44 goals that season ranked fourth in the NHL.
Game-winner to Advance to the Western Conference Final
Nearly a month after Marleau scored his career-high 44th goal of the regular season, the Sharks had the opportunity to clinch a berth to the Western Conference Final when they faced the Detroit Red Wings in Game Five of the second round series. On May 8, 2010, Marleau broke the 1-1 tie between the Red Wings, which stood to be the game-winner. That tally helped the Sharks advance to the Western Conference Final for only the second time in franchise history and the first time since 2003-04.
First Stanley Cup Final Goal
After finding themselves trailing 2-0 during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final versus the Pittsburgh Penguins on May 30, 2016, fellow teammate Tomas Hertl helped bring the Sharks within one with a power-play goal three minutes into the second period. Later that frame, Marleau evened the game at two with the first Stanley Cup Final goal of his career. It was a long time coming for the San Jose forward, who waited nearly two decades to score the significant tally.
Natural Hat Trick + 1
Nearing his 500th goal of his career, Marleau helped himself reach the milestone even faster on January 23 of this year versus Colorado. At the 16:23 mark of the third period, Marleau's goal was his fourth goal of the evening. His previous three goals also came during the third frame and helped him join Hockey Hall-of-Famers' Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux as just the third player in the last 70 years with four goals in the third period of a game. He was also the first player since 1997 to score four goals in a period and 12th in NHL history.
Video: SJS@COL: Marleau records first career four-goal game
With so many memorable goals, it is hard to narrow the field down to just six throughout Marleau's career and there are a number of honorable mention markers that should be acknowledged - from his first career Olympic goal with Canada during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and his overtime, game-winner against the Canucks on May 7, 2013 that helped the Sharks sweep a team during the playoffs for the first time in the team's history to a game-winning goal in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinal against Detroit, after a slow start to the series which caused some scrutiny in the media.
Now that Marleau has reached the 500 goal plateau, there is more to be excited about as far as player milestones go during the 2016-17 season. Sharks Joe Thornton, who was drafted first overall and just above Marleau in 1997, is six assists away from 1,000 in his career and 26 points away from 1,500. Meaning the Sharks may have much more to celebrate as they begin the final leg of the year.