GLENDALE, Ariz. — William Karlsson knows a thing or two about ironman streaks, having missed a total of two games in the past four-plus seasons.
But the Golden Knights center marveled at the staying power of Arizona center Phil Kessel.
Kessel played in his 777th straight game Thursday when the Knights and Coyotes met at Gila River Arena, moving him past Craig Ramsay for seventh place on the NHL’s all-time list of most consecutive games played.
“That’s a lot of games,” Karlsson said. “It takes a lot to have a streak like that. Good for him, and I hope he continues that way.”
Kessel’s streak started Nov. 3, 2009, with Toronto during his fourth NHL season and continued after he was traded to Pittsburgh in 2015. He was acquired by the Coyotes in July.
The 32-year-old has the third-longest active ironman streak behind Florida’s Keith Yandle (800 games) and San Jose’s Patrick Marleau, who played in his 789th straight game Thursday at Chicago after re-signing with the Sharks on Wednesday.
In 998 career games before Thursday, Kessel notched 357 goals and 824 points.
“His streak, knock on wood, is incredible. You can pencil him in every time,” Arizona coach Rick Tocchet said. “The maturity of our younger guys should fast-track because of a guy like him.”
Karlsson extended his personal streak to 189 consecutive games played, the 25th longest active streak in the league.
Knights coach Gerard Gallant revealed Wednesday that Karlsson has been nursing an undisclosed injury that prevents him from taking faceoffs.
“Luckily my injuries have been minor and I’ve been able to play through,” Karlsson said. “Otherwise, I don’t know what I’m doing right. I guess my play style is not too physical. Maybe that gives me the advantage of being healthy.”
The Knights started a busy portion of their schedule that sees them play eight games in 13 days, including three straight against Pacific Division opponents.
Defending division champ Calgary visits T-Mobile Arena on Saturday before the Knights complete a back-to-back at Los Angeles on Sunday. After two more home games, the Knights hit the road for three games from Oct. 19 to 22.
“There’s no doubt, when you start to play some teams in your division and some travel comes up, it’s going to be a tough stretch,” Gallant said. “But that’s what you like. You want to play the games. We’re tired of practice. We’re tired of training camp. The guys are excited to play the games.”
Arizona’s Barrett Hayton made his highly anticipated debut Thursday, skating on the third line at left wing.
The 19-year-old was the fifth overall pick in the 2018 draft and totaled 66 points in 39 games last season in the Ontario Hockey League.
Most consecutive games played in the NHL:
1. Doug Jarvis — 964 games (Oct. 8, 1975 to Oct. 10, 1987)
2. Garry Unger — 914 games (Feb. 24, 1968 to Dec. 21, 1979)
3. Steve Larmer — 884 games (Oct. 6, 1982 to April 15, 1993)
4. Andrew Cogliano — 830 games (Oct. 4, 2007 to Jan. 13, 2018)
5. Keith Yandle — 800 games (active)
6. Patrick Marleau — 789 games (active)
7. Phil Kessel — 777 games (active)
8. Craig Ramsay — 776 games (March 27, 1973 to Feb. 10, 1983)
9. Jay Bouwmeester — 737 games (March 6, 2004 to Nov. 22, 2014)
10. Henrik Sedin — 679 games (March 21, 2004 to Jan. 18, 2014)