The Vegas Golden Knights completed a three-game homestand Monday with a 3-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, setting the stage for a record-setting night on Tuesday.
When Vegas forward Phil Kessel takes ice against the host San Jose Sharks, he will became the NHL’s all-time ironman.
The 35-year-old veteran is set to break Keith Yandle’s ironman record by skating in his 990th consecutive game when the two Pacific Division clubs play the first of four meetings.
Slotting in Monday at right wing on a third line with left winger Michael Amadio and center Brett Howden, Kessel participated in his 989th consecutive game on Monday in a game that seemingly couldn’t have been scripted better.
After producing just one point, an assist, in his first six games with the Golden Knights, Kessel appeared to score on the first power play at 3:16 when he finished a two-on-one feed from Nicolas Roy as the Vegas crowd erupted.
However, Toronto challenged for offside on William Karlsson, and the goal was denied. Yet 35 seconds after that, Roy tipped in his first tally, with Kessel earning an assist after putting the initial shot on goal.
That didn’t fit the narrative as well as the overturned marker — it would have been the Wisconsin native’s 400th of his outstanding career — but the bigger moment was Kessel tying Yandle’s milestone.
“I thought I scored actually,” Kessel said. “It is what it is. We ended up scoring right after, and that’s all that counts.”
The ironman streak dates back to Kessel’s time with Toronto after his offseason shoulder surgery in mid-2009 delayed his start to the 2009-10 season.
His streak began on Nov. 3, 2009, against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Kessel recalled details of the streak-starting game nearly 13 years ago.
“I forgot it was against the Lighting — that was after my shoulder surgery, I guess,” Kessel said pregame on the AT&T SportsNet broadcast. “I got killed that game, too, by Mattias Ohlund. I remember that game now that you brought it up.”
Meanwhile, San Jose is seeking a first victory on home ice after a 2-2-0 road trip. The Sharks, who are 0-2-0 at home, are set to open a six-game homestand. They dropped two games to begin the season in Prague against the Nashville Predators.
San Jose won two of the last three games on the road swing, with new coach David Quinn earning his first victory in an odd twist.
Quinn, who coached the Rangers from 2018-2021, got his first NHL win with New York by beating the Sharks 3-2 in overtime on Oct. 11, 2018. On Thursday, Quinn’s side beat the Rangers 3-2 in overtime — both games occurring in Madison Square Garden.
Up until that point, San Jose was winless through five games. Quinn believes that had more to do with the confidence of his players, who may have reached a turning point in the victory over the Blueshirts.
“You get (confidence) by playing the right way and doing the right thing and watching your teammates do the right thing,” Quinn said. “At some point in time, you’ve got to say enough is enough, and I thought that’s what they did after the second period.
“They’re just tired of losing, and I thought they understood what it’s going to take for us to win.”
The Sharks fell 2-1 in New Jersey on Saturday, but the trip’s high point occurred in the finale at Philadelphia on Sunday. Quinn’s group wrapped up its easterly trek with a 3-0 blanking of the Flyers behind James Reimer’s 26th career shutout.
–Field Level Media