Sharks’ Patrick Marleau rides resurgence to career goal No. 500

When Patrick Marleau confirmed he would play a 19th NHL season, it seemed a foregone conclusion he would reach the 500-goal milestone. A painfully slow start to his season (eight points in 26 games) delayed the celebration a bit, but the time finally arrived Thursday.

The red-hot Sharks winger became the 45th player in NHL history to score 500 goals with a first-period marker in a 4-1 win over the Canucks.

But everything changed with a very scary play in the 2011 Winter Classic when the Penguins faced Ovechkin and the rival Capitals. Skating through the middle of the ice, Crosby took a high hit from the Capitals’ Dave Steckel that knocked Crosby out of the game. Though he played four nights later in Tampa Bay, it would be Crosby’s final action for a 10-and-a-half month stretch when he was sidelined with a concussion.

Crosby’s return to the ice though inspired confidence that the health scare was behind him, when he scored twice against the Islanders in a 5-0 Penguins victory.

With all the buzz surrounding teenage phenoms Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews, Crosby proved this past season that he’s undoubtedly among the NHL’s top active players. Crosby had one of the best goal-scoring seasons of his career and won his second Richard trophy (and first outright), leading the NHL with 44 goals.

Crosby began his career a baby-faced 18-year-old and came sprinting out of the gate with a six-game scoring streak. But it wasn’t until his third game (real slacker) that Crosby scored his first-career goal. Though it came in a Penguins overtime loss to the Bruins, Crosby beat Hannu Toivonen (a nice piece of trivia) late in the second period to put the Penguins ahead, 6-4. Crosby, who also recorded two assists, had his first multi- and three-point games of his career. Boston would go on to win the game, 7-6.

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