In a game that wasn’t expected to be a close one – the worst-in-the league Avalanche facing the defending Campbell Bowl winner Sharks – Monday night’s contest went into the third period tied, San Jose catching itself in a 20-minute game as the club looked to keep up with Anaheim in the race for first place in the Pacific Division.
Then Patrick Marleau happened.
The 37-year-old forward took the game over in the third period, scoring four goals in the final 20 minutes to give the Sharks the 5-2 win. The outpouring was the first four-goal game of Marleau’s career, according to hockey-reference.com, as he became the first player to score four goals in a period since Mario Lemieux did so in January 1997.
All four goals were scored in a different fashion. The goal that got Marleau on the scoresheet was a net-front tip of a Marc-Eduoard Vlasic shot from the left point, which was Vlasic’s 11th apple of the season. The second was set up on a give-and-go with Logan Couture, which Marleau buried on a wrap-around at the right post while the hat trick came on a two-on-one with Joe Pavelski. He made it four on a stretch pass from Vlasic, which turned into a breakaway that resulted in goal No. 4 with 3:37 to play.
The four-goal period will certainly be the highlight of Marleau’s chase for 500 career goals, the accomplishment bringing him up to 497, which is good enough for 46th on the all-time list. His next goal will tie Glenn Anderson for 45th on the list. Forty-four players in NHL history have reached 500.
Marleau, who is San Jose’s all-time leading goal scorer, is fifth among active players on the list of career tallies.