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Smolinski, Nolan to play 1,000th NHL games; Kovalev next to reach plateau

NHL.com @NHL

Bryan Smolinski celebrated his 1,000th NHL game Monday night, taking the opening faceoff in the Montreal Canadiens' game against the Boston Bruins at the Bell Centre.

Later Monday night, Calgary winger Owen Nolan was poised to play 1,000th career game when the Flames hosted the San Jose Sharks.

"My first game was my biggest highlight," said Smolinski, whose career began March 27, 1993 for the Bruins against the Pittsburgh Penguins. "The coolest thing was walking through the crowd in the old Boston Garden.

"You had to be humbled by it."

Smolinski, a native of Toledo, Ohio, went on to play for Pittsburgh, the New York Islanders, Los Angeles, Ottawa, Chicago and Vancouver before signing as a free agent with Montreal in the summer.

He became the 220th player to reach 1,000 games, and is the second Canadien to reach the plateau this season. Defenceman Roman Hamrlik reached the milestone in the team's season opener.

Habs winger Alex Kovalev will play his 1,000th game Friday night in Carolina.

Nolan, who was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, was drafted first overall in 1990 by the Quebec Nordiques.

He has 776 points and 1,665 penalty minutes over a career that included stops in Quebec, San Jose and Toronto.

Nolan was on Canada's gold medal-winning team at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.

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