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Sharks Celebrate A Night of Firsts

by Staff Writer / San Jose Sharks
On Wednesday, Joe Pavelski was to play for the Worcester Sharks in a game at Hartford against the Wolf Pack.
But at 4 a.m., the Sharks rookie center was awakened by a phone call that told him he wasn’t going to play for San Jose’s American Hockey League affiliate that night. Instead, he had to catch a plane to California to play for the National Hockey League Sharks against Los Angeles.
The long day turned out to be fruitful for Pavelski as he scored his first NHL goal at 9:41 of the third period, had three shots on goal and logged almost 16-and-a-half minutes of ice time.
“I got the call at 4 a.m., Eastern Time, and arrived in San Francisco around Noon,” Pavelski said after San Jose’s 6-3 win over the Kings. “I don’t know what time is it in the East right now, but I’m ready for bed.”
Pavelski did get a combined total of seven hours of sleep, but getting ready for his first NHL game was a challenge.
“I got some food when I got to San Jose (which was around 1 p.m.),” he said. “I tried to take a nap, but that didn’t go very well because the phone was ringing off the hook. I couldn’t really sleep. So, I came to the arena early to sort out some things with sticks and skates.”
When one does the math, Pavelski had been up and on-the-go for approximately 21 hours when Wednesday’s game ended.
“It’s been a long day,” he said.
Pavelski got his first NHL goal in front of the net on a rebound. Not a highlight-reel goal, but as most goals come in hockey, he was in the right place at the right time.
“It was a good rebound. It popped onto my stick and it found the back of the net,” Pavelski said.
The 22-year-old Pavelski skated on a line with Steve Bernier on the right wing and Patrick Marleau, who moved from center to left wing. Pavelski left Worcester tied for fourth in AHL scoring with 26 points. He’s also fourth in the league with 18 assists. Pavelski is in the midsts of his first professional season after playing the last two seasons for the University of Wisconsin. In fact, he led the Badgers with 56 points as they won last year’s NCAA Championship.
Pavelski was selected in the seventh round, 205th overall, of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. He’s got a roster spot because Jonathan Cheechoo was placed on Injured Reserve on Wednesday, retroactive to Nov. 16.
“These guys are doing pretty good up here,” Pavelski said about his new teammates. “There’s a lot of great players. I’m just trying to fill in, make a name for myself and earn everyone’s respect.”
Joe Pavelski wasn’t the only Sharks rookie to score his first NHL goal on Wednesday night. Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic got his first and San Jose’s first of the game at 10:16 of the first period.
Vlasic’s initial tally came on the power play. Joe Thornton had the puck behind the Kings net. Vlasic saw an opening in the right slot and skated from the point, took the pass and hit a one-timer past goaltender Dan Cloutier.
Vlasic needed 23 games to score an NHL goal. On the night, Vlasic had a goal, an assist, two blocked shots and earned the game’s No. 1 star.
“I took the opportunity to go in and things worked out for me,” Vlasic said. “I’ve been wanting to score and I knew it would come with time. Joe set me up perfectly and I didn’t want to miss this opportunity.”
The 19-year-old Vlasic has kept his game simple (translation: no Bobby Orr-like sprints with the puck from goal line to goal line) since making the opening night roster. But he does have the okay to stray from the point in the attacking zone when the opportunity arises.
“They (coaching staff) has given me the green light to jump up whenever there’s an opportunity,” Vlasic said. “I took it and was fortunate to get my first goal.”
Some Sharks fans still can’t believe that Patrick Marleau is in his eighth season with the Sharks.
“It’s been a long time,” Marleau said. “But it’s gone by quick, though.”
So to see the 27-year-old Marleau score 200 NHL goals is equally as surprising.
Marleau’s 200th NHL goal, No. 13 on the season, came at 2:57 of the second period. The Sharks captain was happy for the goal, but was happier for the win.
“It’s always nice to get milestones,” he said, “but it’s even better with a win.”
Marleau is the second Shark to join “The 200 Club.” He needs just seven goals to surpass Owen Nolan (206) for No. 1 on San Jose’s all-time list.
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