Golden Knights’ Phil Kessel closes in on NHL ironman record

Vegas Golden Knights center Phil Kessel (8) skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the...
Vegas Golden Knights center Phil Kessel (8) skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the second period of an NHL hockey game Monday, Oct. 24, 2022, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Steve Marcus)(STEVE MARCUS | AP)
Published: Oct. 25, 2022 at 2:26 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Vegas Golden Knights forward Phil Kessel isn’t a fan of attention.

Regardless, the 17-year veteran will find himself in the NHL spotlight on Tuesday night.

After matching defenseman Keith Yandle’s record for consecutive games played (989) on Monday against Toronto, Phil Kessel will own the mark when he appears in the Knights’ game at San Jose — his 990th.

“It’s a cool thing, it means I’ve played a lot of games, right?” Kessel said Monday. “It’s fine. Obviously, I got to win a couple of Cups, so I guess that’s better than this. But tomorrow will be another fun game and hopefully get a W.”

The two-time Stanley Cup champion said he’ll be glad to put the milestone in the rearview mirror and focus on the season, which he hopes will include a return to the postseason after neither he and the Arizona Coyotes nor the Golden Knights made the playoffs last year.

Kessel, who has 399 goals and 559 assists, has played in 1,211 career games with Boston, Toronto, Pittsburgh, Arizona and Las Vegas.

He remains one goal away from becoming the 13th American-born player to score 400 NHL goals after coming close Monday. A challenge by Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe overturned a would-be goal just minutes into the game after teammate William Karlsson was ruled offside.

Kessel acknowledged there have been some days he thought the streak would come to an end, but he has pushed through numerous injuries and endured some pain while cherishing his time with all five teams, including his first several months with the Golden Knights.

“No one’s at 100 percent ever in this league. People think they are, there’s just no way,” he said. “You always get bumps and bruises and nicks and don’t feel great. You just keep going.

“I have great experiences (with) every city, they’re all different. I like to play. I enjoy going out there and competing and playing the games. Obviously, been doing it for a long time. It’s still fun to me. I’ve loved playing in the NHL for these 17 years and hopefully, I can continue.”