At 7:10 p.m. on Saturday night at Amalie Arena, history was made.
When the puck dropped to start Pittsburgh's matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning, it marked Sidney Crosby's 916th career contest - which set a new franchise record for games played by passing Hall of Fame owner Mario Lemieux.
"I'm happy to be in Pittsburgh," Crosby said after the game. "Time certainly goes by pretty fast. I've had a lot of great memories here over those games and would like to play a lot more, so that's kind of how I look at it."
Passing Lemieux in any category is incredibly significant, considering that most of his team records will likely be untouched.
"I'm just happy that I've been able to play this many games for this team," Crosby said with a smile.
All 916 of Crosby's games have come with Pittsburgh, the team that drafted him first overall in 2005. He feels fortunate that everything worked out the way it has, where he's been able to stay in one place for all these years and accomplish everything that he has with this organization.
"I'm happy that I've been in Pittsburgh this long," Crosby said. "You're drafted by a team, there's high expectations and you want to be part of it for your career, but you never know how it's going to work out.
"The fact that I went to Pittsburgh, I think I just appreciate that. The fact that I'm able to share a lot of those games with a core group of guys, too, that's nice to be able to share that with them. I just want to play as many as I can."
Reaching this milestone is slightly bittersweet in the sense that Crosby probably could have reached it a lot quicker, if it weren't for the concussion and neck issues he dealt with during the 2010-11 and '11-12 seasons that forced him to miss 61 consecutive games.
"When you go through that, you definitely gain a different perspective," he said. "On the flip side, I feel like I could have been at a higher number of games at this point, too. I look at it both ways. But I think you definitely gain an appreciation for playing the game and all that comes with it."
This game, which Tampa Bay won 5-4, was an eventful one. It had a playoff-like feel, which was fitting as this was a potential postseason preview. This was the third and final regular-season meeting of the season between the teams, who have played some emotional, physical matchups. There were plenty of post-whistle scrums and altercations away from the play, including one with Crosby and Tampa's Tyler Johnson.
"I don't have a great explanation," Crosby said when asked why the matchups have been so intense. "The first one kind of carried over into the next one (and so on). I don't know. For whatever reason, it's kind of ended up that way."
Crosby was a force all night in the game, making a terrific play to set up Pittsburgh's fourth goal from Tanner Pearson and feeding his teammates for some other opportunities that they weren't able to convert. With the loss, the Pens are winless in four straight (0-3-1) and have a one-point lead on Carolina for the second Wild Card spot.
"I think we know the situation and the fact that a few of the games we've been in we haven't found a way to win them," Crosby said. "Close games like that are going to be pretty common all the way in here and we need to make sure we're finding a way to get those big plays."