Joe Pavelski‘s return for Game 7 has already proven to be huge for the San Jose Sharks. Meanwhile, the Avalanche lost Nathan MacKinnon for a chunk of the first, but the news for them isn’t as dreary as it initially seemed.
Pavelski’s fingerprints were all over the first period. He set the tone, scoring the opening goal on a deflection just 5:57 minutes into the game.
He also got the primary assist on Tomas Hertl‘s goal to make the game 2-0 and drew a penalty from Ian Cole. So it’s fair to say that Game 7 could have gotten off to a very different start if Pavelski wasn’t able to make his series debut.
The Avalanche weren’t nearly as fortunate early on. Less than two minutes into the game, MacKinnon ran into the boards during a power play and immediately left with what looked like a shoulder or arm injury.
Amazingly, he was able to return late into the first. We can’t know if he’s playing hurt or not, but for what it’s worth, he still managed to come close to scoring. To make matters better for the Avalanche, Mikko Rantanen scored in the dying seconds of the period, so at least they went into the intermission down by just a goal.
This is shaping up to be a wild Game 7.