Nail Yakupov’s injury misfortune gave Edmonton Oilers forward Jujhar Khaira a chance to make some hockey history on Saturday night.
Khaira is just the third Punjabi player to appear in the NHL, according to Harpreet Pandher, an analyst for Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi Edition.
He suited up for the Oilers at the Pittsburgh Penguins, playing on a line with Anton Lander and Matt Hendricks.
Khaira was called up earlier in the week and looked like he might debut against the Detroit Red Wings. Instead, it was against the Penguins and players that Khaira admitted he admired.
“It’s going to be exciting if I do. There’s going to be a lot of emotions, and a lot of fun,” he said. “Those are outstanding players. I’ve been watching them growing up, and getting a chance to play with them is special.”
According to Pandher, Robin Bawa and Manny Malhotra are the other two Punjabi players to have played in the NHL. Bawa played 61 games in four seasons, including 42 with the 1992-93 San Jose Sharks. Malhotra had a storied 991-game career and is currently a free agent.
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