And now Phil Kessel stands alone.
Kessel became the NHL’s new “iron man” on Tuesday — and did so in style, scoring his 400th career goal in the Vegas Golden Knights‘ 4-2 win over the Sharks in San Jose. The 35-year-old winger has now appeared in 990 consecutive games, a streak that started Nov. 3, 2009.
“I was happy to get it,” Kessel said of the memorable evening that was capped by his new teammates chanting his name in a celebratory locker room. “It was a special night. I’m glad to get the win.”
It did not take long for Kessel to break the record, previously established by Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Keith Yandle last season. Kessel started the game alongside William Carrier and Nicolas Roy. His record-breaking shift lasted 26 seconds before a break in play led to him going back to the bench. During the broadcast, Kessel could be seen looking up at the SAP Center video board with a smile on his face.
The Sharks acknowledged Kessel’s record during the first television timeout. The crowd applauded Kessel while the Knights winger waved at them in gratitude.
“It was nice. I appreciate it. They don’t have to do that. But I appreciate it out of them,” said Kessel, who had played the previous three seasons with the Arizona Coyotes.
Later in the first period, Kessel opened the game’s scoring with his first goal of the season and his first with the Golden Knights. It was also his 400th career goal, making him the 12th American-born player to reach that milestone.
“It was just pure happiness from everyone,” Vegas teammate William Karlsson said. “Everyone was just cheering and howling. It was really good to see it go in.”
Kessel nearly reached that mark on Monday against the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs — the game in which he moved into a tie with Yandle — before an offside challenge wiped off his goal. There was no question this time.
The Golden Knights made sure it was a commemoratory night with goals from Shea Theodore, Karlsson and Mark Stone in the third period to get the win. Adin Hill made 29 saves in his first game against San Jose since being traded from the Sharks to Vegas this summer.
“I think all the boys wanted to rally behind him,” Hill said. “We didn’t have the second period that we wanted to have, and then we kind of had a little talk in the locker room and just kind of a gut check. I thought we responded in the third period, and the results showed.”
Yandle became the record holder Jan. 25, 2022, after he appeared in 965 straight games, a streak that started March 26, 2009.
Yandle, who retired before the start of the 2022-23 season, extended his streak to 989 games before it ended March 29, 2022. Prior to Yandle, the record holder was former Montreal Canadiens forward Doug Jarvis, who appeared in 964 games in a streak that ended Oct. 10, 1987.
Kessel was 8 days old when Jarvis’ streak ended.
Jarvis held the title as the NHL’s iron man for nearly 35 years before Yandle claimed the record. But there was always a belief Yandle’s reign could be short-lived. Kessel had already played in 941 straight games around the time Yandle broke Jarvis’ record. By comparison, Yandle held the title for nine months before he was overtaken by Kessel.
Information from The Associated Press was included in this report.