Evgeni Malkin skated for the first time in his life at the age of 3 with boots and blades screwed into them. On a pond across from his dilapidated apartment in the small, working class town of Magnitogorsk, Russia, Malkin would learn the game of hockey.
It was from that humble upbringing that Malkin would rise to become an NHL star, three-time Stanley Cup champion, two-time scoring champion, an NHL MVP, playoff MVP, and, as of Tuesday night, a 1,000-point scorer.
"It's 1,000 points. A crazy number," Malkin said. "I played in a small city. I never believed that I would play in the NHL and score 1,000 points.
"It's an amazing night for me. One of the best nights of my life," Malkin continued. "It's a special day for my family, my friends. I played hockey all my life. It's amazing to be here and win against Washington. It's a special day."
Malkin picked up two assists, the second being his 1,000th-career point, in Pittsburgh's 5-3 victory against Washington at PPG Paints Arena.
"It wasn't pretty. It was two assists," Malkin joked. "I was trying to score when I had a chance. The 2-on-1 I tried to shoot between my legs. It doesn't matter. We won. It's one of the best nights of my life."
"The last few weeks I was a little bit nervous. It was (coming slowly). Finally it's 1,000 and I can breathe normally."
Malkin, 32, picked up an assist in the second period to push him to 999. He broke through in the third period for the historic achievement.
Malkin had the puck on the halfwall. He found defenseman Justin Schultz at the midpoint with a perfect pass. Schultz one-timed the shot on net. The rebound found the stick of Phil Kessel, who buried it to finish the play.
The big screen showed Malkin's parents, Vladimir and Natalia, and wife, Anna, jumping and screaming in excitement. Vladimir rubbed his reddened and moist eyes. The crowd gave Malkin a standing ovation that wouldn't relent.
"It's a special moment. You don't see that happen very often," captain Sidney Crosby said. "To be teammates for this long and be on the ice with him when he got it, it's just really special. He got a great ovation and we wanted to keep going, but they were rushing us to get the play going."
It was fitting that Kessel scored the big goal as the duo have been linemates for the past four seasons.
"(Kessel) wanted that," Malkin said with a huge grin. "We talked before. He said, 'I hope I score your 1,000th point.' He's unbelievable. It's special for him, too. We've played a long time together. It's a huge goal for him and a huge point for me."
But Malkin isn't stopping at 1,000. He still has a lot of points left in him before his career is over.
"It's not over. I'll keep going," he said.
So is 2,000 on the horizon?
Malkin said with a laugh: "No chance."