Pavel Datsyuk returned to the Detroit Red Wings lineup on Friday night after missing the first 15 games of the season recovering from offseason ankle surgery.
The 37-year-old had four shots on goal and won two of the six face-offs he took in the Red Wings 3-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks.
It was his first action since Game 7 of the Red Wings first-round loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on April 29.
“I have good chances but I need to score with at least one,” Datsyuk said postgame. “It would be good for me and for team. I not score. It’s not the shots that matter, how many shots.”
Datsyuk received an ovation from the 20,027 in attendance at Joe Louis Arena when he stepped on to the ice for his first shift 20 seconds into the first period. He finished the night with 20:53 in time on ice.
Coach Jeff Blashill expected the veteran forward to be rusty in his season debut.
“It’s what I expected,” he said. “He did some good things. He didn’t have a training camp. We’re 15 games deep already. I think the expectations that he’s just going to hop on like he does at the end of the year … well, it takes anybody, even as good as he is, time to get going.
“I thought he played fine, I thought there were moments of greatness but I also think he’ll be a lot better five games into this than he is today.”
Datsyuk underwent surgery on June 26 to repair ruptured tendons in his right ankle.
“After I wait lots of time and lots of being outside of the game, it’s fun to be in the locker room,” he said. “It’s fun to be with team and like, had to score. But next time I need to try, I need to score.”
Datsyuk will get a chance to find the score sheet tonight as the Red Wings visit the Boston Bruins.