“800 Career Point Scorer Phil Kessel” doesn’t quite roll off the tongue like ” Two-time Stanley Cup Champion Phil Kessel,” but as of today both statements are true. The American-born forward joined the 800 point club after assisting on Sidney Crosby’s goal at the 13:08 mark of the second period in the Penguins loss to the Calgary Flames, Saturday.
Kessel started the play from the left faceoff circle by sending a pass to the slot to Evgeni Malkin, who ripped a shot that deflected to the waiting stick of Crosby. In his usual fashion, Crosby roofed the pass top shelf from an impossible angle. Words don’t do the play justice so watch for yourself the combination of three talented players.
The milestone clinching point came on the powerplay, and for Kessel, who is known for his power play production and led the NHL in PP points in 2017-18, it was fitting.
The Madison, WI entered the league as the fifth overall selection in the 2006 NHL Draft by Boston. Kessel played three seasons in “Beantown” and won the Bill Masterton Trophy in 2007 in recognition for his battle with testicular cancer. After a trade to Toronto, and spending six seasons in Canada, he joined the Penguins during the 2015 offseason.
Kessel was the centerpiece of a trade that sent Kaspari Kapanen, Nick Spalding, and Scott Harrington to Toronto. The Penguins received Kessel, Tyler Biggs, and Tim Erixon back in the deal.
Kessel scored his first regular season goal as a Penguin on Oct. 10, 2015, against Arizona in the team’s second game of the 2015–16 season. Later that season, Kessel won the Stanley Cup after the Penguins defeated the San Jose Sharks. Kessel played on a line with Nick Bonino and Carl Hagelin which was the most effective line for the Penguins in the playoffs. The line was so productive that it gained the nickname “HBK,” there was even a Shawn Michaels appearance.”
The playoffs were fruitful as Kessel led the Penguins in playoff scoring with ten goals and 22 points and also led the team in shots with 98. Kessel has forever become part of Penguins lore, from filling the Stanley Cup with hot dogs to troll his former media antagonists to trolling Team USA bosses over his exclusion from the 2017 World Cup.
Kessel was especially huge in the second round against Washington. The Penguins bought real estate in Washington goaltender Braden Holtby’s head, Kessel signed the check.
The following season, Kessel won his second career Stanley Cup when the Penguins beat the Nashville Predators, he had eight goals and 15 assists during the run. Kessel had a Conn Smythe worthy playoffs both seasons, but the trophy ultimately went to Sidney Crosby both times.
The career of Phil Kessel is best summarized by the support and following he receives from the Penguins fanbase. Night in and night out, the fans cheer and hold their breath when he streaks down the wing in hopes of seeing one of his signature wrist shots. Kessel was a lightning rod to criticism during his time with Toronto and developed an unsavory reputation, but Pittsburgh has embraced him with loving arms.
The memes and tweets are many.
— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) February 16, 2019
Kessel has 351 career goals and 450 career assists in 972 games.
Here is a complete look at Kessel’s 13-year career: