Thu, 07 Dec 2023

Russian star reaches NHL milestone
21 Nov 2022, 19:25 GMT+10

Evgeni Malkin achieved the feat with the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday

Evgeni Malkin played his 1,000th NHL game on Sunday night as the Russian forward helped the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 5-3 victory at the Chicago Blackhawks.

Malkin, 36, marked the occasion with a goal as he became the second player to reach the milestone exclusively in a Penguins jersey, alongside teammate Sidney Crosby.

The goal was Malkin's 452nd in his NHL career, and he has recorded at least one point in 71% of the games he has played - matching his jersey number.

Before the game at the United Center in Chicago, Malkin's six-year-old son Nikita was a surprise guest in the Penguins' locker room as he read out the team lineup.

Afterwards, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan paid tribute to the man nicknamed 'Geno'.

"I know it was a special night for him. His family was here to celebrate it with him, which was terrific," said Sullivan.

"And the fact that we could come out in the win column, I think it just makes the experience that much more memorable. for sure."

The Blackhawks also marked the occasion with a congratulatory message for Malkin on the videoboard during the first TV timeout of the game.

The Magnitogorsk-born Malkin is in his 17th season with the Penguins.

He made his debut as a 20-year-old back in October 2006, scoring in a 2-1 defeat to the New Jersey Devils.

He has gone on to become an integral part of the Penguins alongside long-term playing partners Crosby and Kris Letang, with the trio helping the franchise to Stanley Cup wins in 2009, 2016 and 2017.

Malkin is also a seven-time NHL All-Star and was awarded the Hart Memorial Trophy for the league's MVP in 2012. He has eight goals and 12 assists in 19 games so far this season.

Malkin's future in Pittsburgh had appeared uncertain after the end of last season with free agency looming, although ended up re-signing on a four-year deal worth a reported $24.4 million.

Malkin is eighth Russian player to reach 1,000 games in the NHL.

The retired Alexei Kovalev played 1,316 games during his time in the league, which included a spell at the Penguins, while Sergei Gonchar made 1,301 appearances before he retired - including alongside Malkin in the Penguins' 2009 Stanley Cup-winning team.  

Alexander Ovechkin is third on the list with 1,294 games and counting with the Washington Capitals.

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