Canadian: an old road, a young dashing

Joe Pavelski quietly tucked his gear into his hockey pocket. He still had the conqueror’s smile. One tooth less, the 38-year-old American had just scored his sixth NHL hat trick.

« It’s special, » Pavelski said before handing his bag to the equipment manager to put in the big truck waiting in the hallway. When you score three goals, it’s always a magical night. I was told that I was the oldest to score a hat trick. It’s pretty crazy as a statistic. I like playing in Montreal, I like this building. »

Yes, Pavelski was the oldest to get three goals against the Canadian. He did it when he was 38 years and 103 days old. He also became the oldest player to achieve this feat in the Minnesota North Stars and Stars organization (1967 to present).

The Stars’ No. 16 also scored his three goals in front of Cole Caufield, another University of Wisconsin Badgers product and good friend.

« I can’t say we had a bet, but there’s always competition, » Pavelski said. If I score a goal, he wants to score one. He didn’t score tonight, but he has had a very good start to the season. He will score several goals in his career, he can fire lightning shots. Fans already love him, but they’re right to love him. He’s a good young man. »

After the match, Peter DeBoer logically had good words for his right winger.

“Joe doesn’t surprise me, he does incredible things, mentioned the head coach of the Stars. He looks like the same player he did five or six years ago with the Sharks and he’ll probably stay the same for another five years. He is a special athlete. »

The calm of Xhekaj

Pavelski, a lowly 7th round pick of the Sharks in 2003, was probably not destined for a big career in the NHL. He was never the fastest or biggest skater. But he always had a gift near the net to score goals, redirecting pucks and with good positioning.

With 1173 games and almost 1000 points (931), Pavelski could knock on the door of the Hall of Fame in a few years.

Pavelski now has 425 NHL goals. In the Habs locker room, there was a youngster who had just celebrated his first. Arber Xhekaj, however, was not smiling as he described his goal against Jake Oettinger in the second half.

« I knew I had some time, » he said. I lifted my head and looked at my options. The attacker was closing in on me and I opted for the shot. I stay calm, I don’t like to get too excited. I’m at my best when I stay calm and manage my emotions. I was happy to score my first goal, but I also remained relaxed. »

DeBoer also slipped a few words on the big number 72 of the CH.

“I knew his name, but I didn’t know him too well. He played in Kitchener in the OHL. If I’m not mistaken, he was never drafted into the NHL. I found it very good tonight. He was calm, he is physical, but he also moves the puck. He is an impressive young man. »

In his sixth NHL game, Xhekaj wasn’t perfect. But he had more good shots than bad with a goal, an assist, seven hits, a +1 record and a playing time of 16:12.

« I feel good, I have confidence, » replied the 21-year-old defender. I have to work on the space I leave with the forwards. I don’t have to be afraid of getting burned, I know I can manage with my feet and my instincts. With the puck, I also gain confidence, I can now make more plays. »


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