When Evgeni Malkin takes the ice for the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night, he will have a chance to match a scoring record set when the NHL was in its infancy.
Malkin will try to become the first player in 89 years to open his career with goals in six straight games and the Penguins (6-3-0) will try to snap an eight-game winless streak against the Los Angeles Kings when the teams meet at Staples Center.
If he scores, Malkin would match the mark set by Hall of Famers Joe Malone, Newsy Lalonde and Cy Denneny during the league's inaugural season in 1917-18.
Coach Michel Therrien praised Malkin, who also has four assists and is third on the team with nine points despite playing four fewer games than most of his teammates.
"Right now, he seems to be having pretty good chemistry with (Sidney) Crosby out there," Therrien said of the No. 2 overall pick in 2004. "He's one of those special players."
Now the Penguins look to Malkin to help end their drought against the Kings, having lost seven meetings and tied one since winning 5-1 at Los Angeles on Jan. 16, 1999.
Malkin scored in Pittsburgh's 8-2 rout of the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday to match fellow Russian Dmitri Kvartalnov, who scored in his first five games with the Boston Bruins in 1992-93.
Crosby, playing on the same line as Malkin, recorded his first career hat trick in the win.
"It's special. It's always nice, first time anything in the NHL," said the 19-year-old Crosby, who leads the team with six goals and 15 points. "You never try to think about it too much, but it's always a nice milestone to have to get your first hat trick."
This also will be the first game since the Penguins said rookie center Jordan Staal would remain with the team instead of being returned to juniors.
"I'm not changing anything about my game," said Staal, the second overall pick in the 2006 draft. "I want to keep playing like I was and hopefully keep contributing. You have to play consistent hockey to keep playing in this league."
Staal has four goals - three short-handed - and an assist in nine games.
Though the Penguins have a pair of impressive rookies on their team, the Kings (4-8-2) boast the league's scoring leader among first-year players. Anze Kopitar, picked 10 spots after Crosby was selected first overall in 2005, had an assist in the Kings' 4-1 win over the New York Rangers on Monday night.
Kopitar has 10 assists - eight coming on home ice - and 13 points in 14 games. The team rookie record for points in a season is 84 by Luc Robitaille in 1986-87.
Defenseman Brent Sopel scored the first two goals of the game as the Kings held a 21-5 shots advantage in the first period en route to snapping a season-high five-game losing streak.
"This is the way we have to play every night," Sopel said. "We have to play with hard work. This is the best league in the world, and if you don't work hard you're not going to get the wins.
"Lately we've been working hard and not getting the bounces - but tonight we did."
Alexander Frolov and Sean Avery also scored, and Mathieu Garon finished with 28 saves.
Goaltender Dan Cloutier has lost his last six starts overall, but is 5-1 with a tie and a 2.27 goals-against average in his career against the Penguins.