SAN JOSE, Calif. -- San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski returned to the lineup for Game 7 of their Western Conference semifinal series against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night, his first action since suffering a gruesome head injury on April 23 against the Vegas Golden Knights.
Pavelski made a quick impact, scoring a goal and assisting on another in the first period, as the Sharks eliminated the Avalanche from the playoffs with a 3-2 win.
"I got to watch these guys play for six games. They gave a lot of motivation for me," Pavelski said after the game. "They were there for me. I wanted to come out and give them a good game as well. There wasn't going to be one guy who won this game and there wasn't. It was a big group effort out there."
Pavelski was injured in Game 7 of the Sharks' first-round series against the Golden Knights. After a cross-check from Vegas forward Cody Eakin, Pavelski collided with Knights forward Paul Stastny and fell head-first to the ice. Pavelski was motionless for a moment, bleeding profusely through the top of his helmet, having suffered a "pressure cut." His teammates helped him skate off to the trainers' room, with teammate Joe Thornton pressing a towel against his head.
Pavelski said he suffered concussion-like symptoms that night and into the next day.
The Sharks were cautious with the 34-year-old center in his return from injury. He started skating on his own around Game 4, and then traveled with the team to Denver for Game 6, practicing with it for the first time since the previous round.
"He played unbelievable for a guy that missed playoff action for two weeks," teammate Logan Couture said after Wednesday's win. "To have the injuries that he has, coming back, and set up a goal, scored a goal. I wish I could tell you what he's gone through from seeing it firsthand. You wouldn't believe that he's playing right now, let's just say that. He played unbelievable."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.