Phil Kessel has played every game in a season for nine consecutive campaigns (2010-19). He ended the regular season having played 774 consecutive games, the third-longest current streak and eighth-longest ever.
But, in the short term, rookie defenseman Marcus Pettersson did Kessel one better.
Two better, to be exact.
Pettersson played 84 games this season. Each team plays 82 games, but the timing of Pettersson's Dec. 3 trade from Anaheim to Pittsburgh let him play two extra.
"For sure, I take pride in it," Pettersson said after the Penguins' regular-season finale Saturday. "It's a long season, and now the fun part begins. But yeah, sure, I take pride in it."
Pettersson's number of games reflected quality as much as anything: Not only was Pettersson never hurt, but he was never scratched. He had two goals, 23 assists and a plus-17 mark. He saw time on the Penguins' power play and penalty kill. Not bad for a player in his first full NHL campaign.
Pettersson credited his durability to "a little bit of everything. I prepared very well for this season. I took huge steps in my development. And it's a little bit of luck, as well."
As for how he currently feels, Pettersson said, "It's all good. This is the most fun part of the season, and I can't wait to get going."
Four Penguins played every game this season: Pettersson, Kessel, Jake Guentzel and Jack Johnson.
Johnson has proven sturdy over his 13 NHL seasons, playing 82 games five times.
"I want to play," Johnson said. "I do everything I can to prepare myself, and try to stay healthy. You need preparation and a little bit of luck."
Johnson acknowledged that an NHL season takes its toll even if you manage to play all 82 games.
"You're never 100 percent healthy as the year gets going," Johnson said. "But you find ways to play. You take advantage of your days off. Keep training during the year. Recover well. Eat right."
Johnson marveled at Kessel's iron-man streak: "That's amazing."
Johnson also seemed ready to serve as Pettersson's agent.
"He should get paid for two more games," Johnson said, laughing.
The NHL record for games played in a season is 86, set by Jimmy Carson when he split 1992-93 between Detroit and Los Angeles; and by Bob Kudelski, when he split 1993-94 between Ottawa and Florida. One significant caveat: In 1992-93 and '93--94, NHL teams played 84 games as the league experimented with neutral-site contests. NHL teams played 80 games from 1974-92. The current 82-game format was adopted in 1995-96 after the prior season was shortened by a labor dispute.
Pettersson played a bunch of regular-season games.
Now he wants to play a bunch of playoff games.
Looking at the Penguins' first-round foe, the New York Islanders, Pettersson said, "We've got to watch some video, and see what they're good at and what we can do to expose them. They're solid. They play five-man defense all the time. They have solid goaltending. We just have to make sure we attack as a five-man unit."
Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM (105.9).