Marleau’s Sharks return will come Thursday vs. Blackhawks

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Welcome back, Patrick Marleau, and welcome back to the San Jose Sharks’ top line.

One day after it was announced the 40-year-old forward would be returning to the franchise where he spent his first 19 years in the NHL, Marleau was skating on the No. 1 line with Logan Couture and Timo Meier. The Sharks are in Chicago ahead of Thursday’s game at United Center and are looking to snap their four-game losing streak to begin the season.

The one-year, $700,000 contract was made official on Wednesday, and while Marleau missed the opening week of the season his consecutive games played streak remains intact at 788 games since he wasn’t registered before their game against Nashville. Once the puck drops Thursday, the veteran forward will be 11 games away from being only the sixth player in NHL history to play 800 straight games, joining Keith Yandle, who reached the mark Tuesday. He’s also 110 games away from passing Gordie Howe for first on the all-time games played list.

“I think he can give us a boost,” said Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer on Tuesday. “He’s an experienced guy. He’s not going to panic under pressure. He’s going to make the right play. He’s a big, strong guy. I think he fits with how we want to play.”

The Sharks are hoping Marleau can play a role in turning around a poor start. The shots on goal have been there, but the goals have yet to come. According to Darin Stephens, San Jose is the eighth team since 1967 to score fewer than five goals in their first four games while taking at least 128 shots on goal.

Marleau, who joked after his first skate back with the Sharks that he may have to use adrenaline to his advantage when he makes his debut Thursday, is eager to get going.

“The supporting cast I had kind of kept me grounded, kept me patient,” he said via Curtis Pashelka of the Mercury News. “I couldn’t be more happy to be back here and be a Shark again. The emotion I felt when that phone call came from Doug [Wilson] was just overwhelming. I’m just very grateful to be back and just want to help the team as much as a I can.”

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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.