Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Kessel Keeps 'Ironman' Streak

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Kessel Keeps 'Ironman' Streak

Article excerpt

Phil Kessel stretched his "Ironman" streak to 690 consecutive games Sunday night, but this one might have been a bit tougher than the other 689.

Kessel was a game-time decision, according to coach Mike Sullivan, after sustaining a lower-body injury in the third period of the Penguins' 5-2 win Saturday night against Montreal.

He took warm-ups, and certainly looked to be in a bit of discomfort, but was in the lineup when the Penguins announced it a few minutes before the game.

Sullivan said Kessel's streak - the third-longest active streak and 10th-longest of all time - would not factor into the decision of whether or not he played Sunday.

"If Phil's healthy to play, he's going to play," Sullivan said before the game. "If he's not, he won't."

Kessel's streak is at 746 consecutive games if you also count the 56 playoff games he played over that span. The previous time he missed a game was Oct. 31, 2009, when he was with the Maple Leafs. He sat out the first 12 games of that season recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.

As a former player himself, Sullivan expressed appreciation for how difficult it is to get through nearly eight full seasons without missing a game.

"It's hard," Sullivan said. "This is a hard league, it's a violent game. It's belligerent out there. I think those kind of milestones are just an indication of a player's durability, mental toughness, a commitment to play the game hard each and every night and to play through some of the milder injuries that maybe would keep other guys out."

Murray back-to-back

Matt Murray started in goal for the second consecutive game Sunday night.

With important divisional points on the line, Sullivan opted to go back to Murray rather than play backup Casey DeSmith.

This marks the second time Murray started both ends of a back-to-back this season, with the first being Oct. 28-29 in Minnesota and Winnipeg. The Penguins lost both of those games, and Murray didn't even finish the first period in what ended up being a 7-1 loss to the Jets.

This time Sullivan thinks the situation is right for Murray to get the nod.

"Matt missed a fair amount of games when he got hurt the last time," Sullivan said. …

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