The now-shortened NHL season had hardly begun when New Jersey star Ilya Kovalchuk claimed his 1,000th career point. The Russian helped the Devils edge out division rivals the NY Islanders, 2-1.
Kovalchuk’s second period assist on Travis Zajac brought his record to 1,000, which includes 500 goals, 406 of which were scored in the NHL.
"Big play," New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer said of Kovalchuk's pass. "Your best players have to be your best players."
The 29-year-old began his scoring record in the late 1990s when he debuted for Spartak Moscow. He also put his name on the scoreboard while playing for KHL’s Ak Bars, after returning to Russia from the Atlanta Thrashers during the 2005 lockout, and with SKA St Petersburg in 2012.
Kovalchuk has become the ninth Russian to reach this milestone mark. The so-called 'Club 1000' is presided by iconic center Sergey Fedorov, alongside other ice hockey greats such as Sergey Makarov, Igor Larionov, Aleksey Kovalev, Aleksandr Mogilny, Aleksey Yashin, Vyacheslav Kozlov and Aleksey Morozov.
However, Kovi wasn't the brightest Russian star in the NHL's first matchday of the new season. His former SKA teammate Vladimir Tarasenko scored twice, and was instrumental in the St Louis Blues’ win against the Detroit Red Wings.