For all the (at this point weird) criticism that comes his way, Kessel’s been remarkably durable and profoundly consistent when it comes to scoring, both in the regular season and during the playoffs.
Sunday provided a helpful reminder of that, all in one moment: Kessel scored his 20th goal of 2017-18 and the 700th regular-season point of his career in putting the Penguins ahead of the New York Rangers 3-2 heading into the second intermission.
Update: Kessel also added an assist during the Penguins’ eventual 5-2 win, pushing him to 701 points. Read more about Pittsburgh’s win here.
Kessel scored his 700th point in his 878th regular-season game. It’s also his 316th career regular-season goal.
Since coming into the league in 2006-07, Kessel ranks 17th in points, via Hockey Reference’s handy tools. He’s a top-10 guy (at least tied for top-10) in goals during that span. Things get even more impressive when you go from 2008-09 and on, when Kessel really hit his stride.
When you combine Kessel’s regular-season and postseason play, it gets that much tougher to criticize the winger. Few players enjoy two-year postseason like Kessel did, collecting 45 points in 47 playoff games and collecting two Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh. His work with Toronto was quite good, too (66 points in 71 career playoff games).
Phil Kessel (Madison, Wis.) of the @penguins is the third U.S.-born player in NHL history to reach the 20-goal mark in 10+ consecutive seasons. #NHLStats #NYRvsPIT @EliasSports pic.twitter.com/4hHnHkF1V6
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) January 15, 2018
While Kessel continues to cement his place as one of the great scorers of this generation, Dominik Simon hit a very different milestone 1:15 earlier, collecting the first goal of his NHL career. Simon, 23, had four assists in 10 games this season and six helpers in 15 NHL games overall, so this was a sweet sixteen for the young forward.
Simon was a fifth-round pick (137th overall) in the 2015 NHL Draft. He’s shown some promising signs here and there in the AHL, including collecting 17 points in 21 games this season.