DALLAS -- Stars center Joe Pavelski didn't travel with the team to Minnesota for Games 3 and 4 of the first-round playoff series against the Wild while still in concussion protocol from a crushing hit in the opener.
Coach Pete DeBoer said Thursday before the Stars left for Minnesota that he has "lots of hope" that Pavelski can return at some point during the series.
"He's getting better every day," DeBoer said. "He was at the game last night, just not coming on this trip."
After Game 3 on Friday night and Game 4 on Sunday, the best-of-seven series that is now tied at a game each will return to Dallas for Game 5 on Tuesday night.
The 38-year-old Pavelski had just cleared the puck midway through the second period of Game 1 on Monday night when he took a big hit from Minnesota defenseman Matt Dumba. Pavelski banged his head hard on the ice when he fell.
Pavelski missed the first six games of the Western Conference semifinals for San Jose against Colorado in 2019 after a hit he took in Game 7 of the first-round series against Vegas. Pavelski was the Sharks' captain at the time, and DeBoer was their coach.
DeBoer had said before the Stars won Game 2 on Wednesday night that Pavelski "was in a much worse place at that time" than he is now.