If there's a bar set for players who join a team without participating in training camp and miss the first few games of a season, Patrick Marleau just raised it pretty high.
The announcement that Marleau would rejoin the Sharks was met with mass excitement from the fan base, but it was still anyone's guess as to how the 40-year-old winger would perform in his return to the franchise, especially after he hadn't played in a game since last spring.
Marleau then went out and scored two goals in San Jose's 5-4 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Needless to say, his teammates were thrilled, but not necessarily surprised.
"I've seen it so many times, I'm not surprised at all," Joe Thornton told the press after the Sharks' victory. "I've seen it so many times and it puts a smile on my face."
Both of Marleau's goals on the evening were period-ending markers that allowed the Sharks to skate into the intermission with the score tied. For a team that had yet to hold a lead through the first four games of the season, getting those two game-tying goals helped keep San Jose in the contest.
Thornton called both of Marleau's goals "good momentum-changers" for the Sharks.
"He's a goal-scorer, that's what he does," Thornton said. "Getting a 500 goal-scorer five games into the year was huge for us. It was the boost we needed tonight."
That boost was also evident on the stat sheet, where Marleau led all Sharks skaters with six shots on goal and led all Sharks forwards with five hits.
"He's just such an unbelievable skater," Brent Burns complimented. "He creates so much, he's so strong on the puck. It was great to see him have a huge night."
The two skaters were instrumental in producing San Jose's fourth goal of the night. Marleau worked around the net to set up Burns for a shot from the point, and then skated in front of Chicago netminder Corey Crawford to redirect the puck into the back of the net.
"He's always there," Burns said of Marleau's net-front presence. "He's going to the hard areas. He's winning battles. He just flies on the ice still. It's crazy to see."
Of course Marleau, true to form, didn't take much credit when asked about his performance.
"Playing with good players, they'll make you look good," Marleau said modestly. "Playing with those guys, it's pretty easy. They took care of me tonight."
Whether he wants to admit it or not, Marleau was a key factor in the Sharks' win. Not bad for a guy who just played his first game of the season.
"What can you say about an athlete like that?" Head coach Peter DeBoer said. "No training camp. No exhibition games. And then show up and play a game like that and give us a boost at a critical time. That's why he's the player he is."