SUNRISE, Fla. -- Joe Pavelski has been through a lot in his career.
The 35-year-old center worked himself up from the "village" of Plover, Wisconsin to a place on the University of Wisconsin's 2006 NCAA Championship team and then after a 16-game stint in the AHL, to a full-time spot in the NHL. He's been there ever since and will play the 1,000th regular season game of his career Friday against the Florida Panthers.
Pavelski said this game will give him a chance to look back on a lot of fond memories, including skating with his older brother Jerry in the family backyard.
"You never really set out to play 1,000 games, a lot of things have to go right," Pavelski said. "Looking back, it was a game we always loved. My older brother built a rink in the backyard and we spent a lot of time out there. He's still building them for his kids now, and it's just a game we have a lot of fun playing, and I'm really fortunate to show up every day with great people and keep competing and just enjoy our time."
Pavelski played most of his games with the San Jose Sharks, but he was allowed to become a free agent in the summer and signed a three-year deal with the Stars. He's played 36 games with his new team, and has been through plenty of ups and down, including a 1-7-1 start to the season and having coach Jim Montgomery fired.
Video: Pavelski reflects on NHL career ahead of 1,000th game
"For us, we struggled early, and at the end of the day, it's all about winning games," Pavelski said. "This group stuck together and really found our identity, and we've been playing to it most nights."
Pavelski has been a big reason.
The former captain in San Jose has brought leadership to the locker room and fit in very well. Now that his teammates will be cheering him on through a pretty important milestone, the bond should get even tighter.
"I'm fortunate, this game has given me a lot," Pavelski said. "I've really played with a lot of great teammates along the way and met a lot of great people throughout this game and throughout this time. The majority of it has been in San Jose, and I've had so many great teammates show me the way, how to play hard and work hard and keep winning. And now I'm excited to be here in Dallas with this group.
"It's been a fun ride so far and I believe we've got a lot more hockey left."
What to watch
This one has all sorts of statistical matchup fun in it.
A lot of this probably doesn't matter because Sergei Bobrovsky rolled up his numbers with Columbus and has not been near as effective this season with Florida, but Bobrovsky is 12-1-1 in his career against Dallas with a 1.63 goals against average and .947 save percentage.
On the flip side, the Stars have been red-hot when playing Florida, but they have never played the Panthers with Bobrovsky in goal. In eight career games against Florida, Alexander Radulov has 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) and is plus-16. Tyler Seguin, meanwhile, in 22 games has 26 points (5 goals, 21 assists) and is plus-18. And Jamie Benn in 15 career games has 21 points (11 goals, 10 assists) and is plus-10. Benn has scored 15 points in his last eight games against Florida.
Ben Bishop will be in goal for Dallas. He had a nice run against the Panthers when he was with Tampa Bay. He is 10-3-1 in his career against Florida with a 2.22 GAA and .918 save percentage.
Video: DAL@TBL: Seguin on Khudobin's effort in Stars' OT win
Rick Bowness didn't talk until before the game, so we are left to guess here.
My guess is Mattias Janmark probably gets a seat so that Justin Dowling can play. If that happens, it would pave the way to move Denis Gurianov up to the second line. That makes sense to me.
Because Taylor Fedun will probably play, and either Roman Polak or Andrej Sekera will come out, it makes sense to replace the right-handed Polak with the right-handed Fedun. We'll see if that plays out.
Video: DAL@TBL: Bowness proud of Stars' fight in OT victory
By the numbers
The Panthers have played nine consecutive home games, the longest stretch in franchise history. They are 4-4-0 in that span.
Florida has been short-handed 82 times this season, fewest in the NHL. The Panthers also have allowed the fewest goals against while killing penalties at 14.
The Stars are 6-7-0 against the Eastern Conference, much of that earlier in the season. They have won four in a row against the East, including a 4-3 OT win in Tampa Thursday.
He said it
"It was more in our transition and our breakouts that we were a little disconnected. We weren't making the same reads as the d-men, so we'll talk it out, we'll watch the video and see the clips for tomorrow because we can't be doing that every night. It's not going to be good hockey, and it's not going to set up for success."
-- Jason Dickinson on how the Stars were outshot 48-20 in Tampa Thursday
Stars projected lineup
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov
Denis Gurianov - Roope Hintz - Joe Pavelski
Andrew Cogliano - Radek Faksa - Blake Comeau
Justin Dowling - Jason Dickinson - Corey Perry
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Jamie Oleksiak - Miro Heiskanen
Andrej Sekera - Taylor Fedun
Scratched: D Roman Polak, C Mattias Janmark
Injured: D Stephen Johns (post-traumatic headaches), C Martin Hanzal (back).
Don't miss your chance to see the Stars take on the Calgary Flames as they return home to American Airlines Center on Sunday, Dec. 22 at 6 p.m. The first 5,000 kids receive a Miro Heiskanen youth jersey presented by AT&T. Get your tickets now!
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.
Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika, and listen to his podcast.