Joe Pavelski makes epic return to Stars' lineup with historic 4-goal game vs. Kraken

Pavelski is the oldest player in NHL history to score four goals in a game — regular season or playoffs.

Stars forward Joe Pavelski returned from injury in Game 1 against the Kraken and had a game for the ages. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Stars forward Joe Pavelski returned from injury in Game 1 against the Kraken and had a game for the ages. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

It was surprising that Joe Pavelski even suited up for the Dallas Stars in Game 1 against the Seattle Kraken to begin with. The veteran missed the final five games of the Stars' opening-round series against the Minnesota Wild while in concussion protocol following a scary hit from Matt Dumba.

But to become the oldest NHL player to score four goals in a game — both in the regular season and the playoffs — turned an impressive return into an iconic one.

Pavelski achieved the feat at 38 years and 295 days, to be exact. The last player to score four goals in a playoff game was another (now former) Star: Denis Gurianov, who did so on Aug. 20, 2020 against the Calgary Flames.

Here's how the legendary night unfolded, with Pavelski's heroics ultimately not enough as Dallas fell 5-4 in overtime.

During the first period, the Kraken shocked the Stars with their speed and finish, building a 4-2 lead. One can only imagine where the Stars would have been without Pavelski, who supplied both of those Dallas goals.

About two-and-a-half minutes into Game 1, Mason Marchment found Pavelski around the right faceoff circle for a high-level wrist shot goal.

Pavelski then showed off his all-world hand-eye coordination (particularly when it comes to deflecting) on his second goal. This one came off a Thomas Harley shot:

After a scoreless second frame, Pavelski came alive once again in the third period. First, he hammered home a beefy rebound created off a Jamie Benn shot on a rush opportunity to complete his hat trick.

Pavelski then made history with his fourth goal via the sort of tip that few other players could even dream of pulling off.

People with long, dirty memories will remember what Joe Thornton once said about celebrating four goals, and that Pavelski was Thornton’s teammate for many years in San Jose.

Losing the first game of the series on home ice surely took some of the shine out of Pavelski's big night, but his accomplishment is still worth celebrating even if his team didn't get the result it was looking for.