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 San Jose Sharks at SAP Center in San Jose, California. 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. “It was a special night. I’m glad to get the win.”
It did not take long for Kessel to break the record, previously held 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.
“Obviously, I’ve played a long time and I’m getting old,” Kessel told ESPN during the game. “I had a fun time doing it.”
Later in the first period, Kessel opened the game’s scoring with his first goal of the season and 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,” 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 Toronto Maple Leafs — the game in which he moved into a tie with Yandle — before an offsides challenge wiped off his goal. There was no question this time.
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 previous 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 when Yandle broke Jarvis’ record. By comparison, Yandle held the title for nine months before he was overtaken by Kessel.