Pavelski travels with Sharks for Game 6, ‘getting closer’ to return

Joe Pavelski surprised his teammates when he came out during Game 5 of the San Jose Sharks’ series against the Colorado Avalanche Saturday night and fired up the SAP Center crowd during a stoppage in play.

It was a great sight not just for Sharks fans, but hockey fans when the Sharks captain donned a smile and waved a towel around. It was 11 days earlier that Pavelski suffered a frightening injury when his head hit the ice during a play in Game 7 of their Round 1 series against the Vegas Golden Knights. He’s not played since, but is getting closer to returning to the lineup.

“You’d like to think you could play tomorrow,” Pavelski said on Sunday when meeting with reporters. “But we’re going to be smart, obviously. Definitely getting closer. Feel like I’m getting closer. Feel like I want it.”

As the Sharks look to close out the Avalanche Monday night in Game 6 (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN; live stream), Pavelski talked about the medical attention he required following the head injury as San Jose their comeback against the Golden Knights.

“Getting the first staple in the head was probably when the first goal horn went off,” he said. “And [I was] just kind of being like, ‘What was that? Did we score?’  But I think by the time the fourth or fifth staple was going in, it was going off again. It was just kind of like, ‘All right, cool.'”

Pavelski said he didn’t have an issue with Golden Knights forward Cody Eakin on the play. He also added he did not believe the play was worthy of a five-minute major and game misconduct, a power play that resulted in four game-changing goals for the Sharks during a 5-4 overtime victory.

“Am I glad they called it that way? Heck, yeah,” Pavelski said. “The refs have a very tough job with how plays happen. It was a scary play, and it gets twisted and everything. Was it malicious or anything like that? I don’t believe so. It’s part of the game. I got twisted up, got bumped on the way down, hit the head.

“Again, glad it was called that way. But then, from that moment on, what the guys did after it, to actually go and do that and score four goals, is … It was a special night. It was one of the tougher nights and one of the better nights at the same time to see and be a part of.”

Pavelski, who scored off his jaw and lost teeth during their first playoff game, said there were about eight staples in his head due to the pressure cut. He was able to celebrate with his teammates after the Game 7 win, despite dealing with some dizziness and headaches. He also said he didn’t have much sensitivity to light as continued dealing with headaches.

The last few days have been encouraging for Pavelski, who traveled with the Sharks to Colorado for Game 6 and is a possibility should there be a Game 7. He’s felt better of late and is getting back to skating and training a little bit.

Should the Sharks finish off the Avalanche Monday night, they’ll have a few days off before the start of the Western Conference Final later this week, which would allow plenty of time to heal up for all, including Pavelski.

“The biggest thing is just to see what the guys have been doing,” Pavelski said. “It’s encouraging to see them really dig in and play just how I know they can play and how we as a group want to play. It’s fun to see that. So we’re always just looking for that consistency and keep going. But they’ve done a tremendous job.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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