Penguins C Evgeni Malkin plays in 1,000th NHL game

Sports

CHICAGO (AP) — Pittsburgh forward Evgeni Malkin played in his 1,000th NHL game on Sunday night at Chicago, becoming the 11th player to reach the milestone with the Penguins.

Malkin made his debut with Pittsburgh on Oct. 18, 2006, scoring in the second period of a 2-1 loss to New Jersey. The center helped the Penguins to Stanley Cup titles in 2009, 2016 and 2017.

“Very emotional night,” Malkin said after he scored in Pittsburgh’s 5-3 victory.

The Penguins surprised Malkin with a pregame appearance by his son, Nikita, who read out the starting lineup — including his dad — in the locker room. Then Malkin’s teammates paid tribute to the 36-year-old center by copying his usual stretching routine during pregame warmups.

The Blackhawks also recognized Malkin’s 1,000th game on their overhead videoboard during the first period, drawing a big cheer from the United Center crowd.

“We marvel sometimes at what he’s able to accomplish on the ice,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “He’s one of the more dominant players in our league when he’s at his best, and we’ve seen him at his very best through some of the Stanley Cup runs.”

Malkin scored his eighth goal of the season in the second period, giving him a seven-game point streak. He skated to the front of the net and knocked home a great feed from Ryan Poehling.

It looked as if Malkin was going to try free agency for the first time last summer. But he decided to stay in Pittsburgh for a four-year contract worth $6.1 million annually.

Now he joins teammate Sidney Crosby as the only players with 1,000 games for the Penguins.

“I stay here like all my life,” Malkin said. “Amazing team, amazing organization. And I hope this will be special here for me.”

Malkin is up to 452 goals and 714 assists in 17 NHL seasons. He also has 67 goals and 113 assists in 177 playoff appearances.

Malkin is the 32nd active player and No. 373 overall with 1,000 career games. He is the eighth Russian-born player to reach the milestone.

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