Plover native Pavelski scores four goals in NHL playoff return

Dallas Stars center Joe Pavelski celebrates after scoring against the Seattle Kraken in the...
Dallas Stars center Joe Pavelski celebrates after scoring against the Seattle Kraken in the first period of Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series, Tuesday, May 2, 2023, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)(Tony Gutierrez | AP)
Published: May. 3, 2023 at 8:05 AM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Joe Pavelski became the oldest player ever with a four-goal game in the NHL playoffs, and did it in his return two weeks after going into concussion protocol.

The 38-year-old Pavelski scored all four of their goals, including two in the third period to force overtime, before the Stars lost 5-4 to Seattle in Game 1 of their second-round series on Tuesday night.

“Epic. Epic. Ashamed we wasted it and didn’t win,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said. “That’s on our group because, you know, he more than do his part. He tried to drag us to a win.”

After taking a big hit and banging his head hard on the ice in the opener of the first-round series against Minnesota on April 17, Pavelski missed the last five games of that series. He was set for a return in Game 7 against the Wild, but that wasn’t needed when the Stars wrapped up that series in six games.

“I think over the last few days there’s definitely a sense of clarity that kind of came back and I felt confident,” Pavelski said.

Only 2 1/2 minutes into his first game back, he scored on his first shot — a 25-foot wrister to put the Stars ahead 1-0. He scored on a pass from Mason Marchment, while Max Domi got the secondary assist.

“It was exciting to be back. First lap in warmups, I felt a little shot of adrenaline right there. I was excited,” Pavelski said. “Starting the game was just as much fun. We battled all night. It was a good game, and we were right there. It’s a tough loss.”

About 10 minutes after his first goal, with Seattle even at 1-1, Pavelski scored again from about the same distance with a redirect of Thomas Harley’s shot. The Kraken then scored three goals in a 68-second span to take a 4-2 lead.

Pavelski notched his second career postseason hat trick midway through the third period when he knocked in a rebound after captain Jamie Benn’s shot. He got the tying fourth goal with 6 1/2 minutes left in regulation, when he swatted a puck into the net out of mid-air after Jani Hakanpaa’s shot ricocheted off the stick of Adam Larsson into the air toward the crease.

The four goals extended Pavelski’s record for U.S.-born players to 68 career playoff goals.

At 38 years, 295 days old, Pavelski surpassed Maurice Richard’s four-goal game at 35 years, 245 days in Game 1 of the 1957 Stanley Cup Final. Pavelski also matched the franchise record for most goals in a playoff game — Denis Gurianov had four in 2020.

It was also Pavelski’s 170th career postseason game. He is one of only five players to play that many without winning a Stanley Cup.

The Stars became only the fourth team to lose a playoff game when having a player score at least four goals. They were the first since the New York Islanders lost to the Capitals in 1993.

The Associated Press contributed to this report