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Phil Kessel extends ironman streak with 1 shift, then flies home for birth of child

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Phil Kessel had a flight to catch.

The Arizona Coyotes winger was in Detroit on Tuesday night to try and help his team defeat the Red Wings but his presence was short-lived. After one single shift and one shot on goal, Kessel left the ice and headed to the airport to fly back to Arizona for the birth of his child.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the Coyotes provided him with a chartered flight so he could make it back in time.

But why did Kessel bother suiting up in the first place? The 34-year-old forward has currently played in 956 consecutive NHL games, holding an incredibly impressive ironman streak, and is slowly making his way to overcoming Doug Jarvis’s second-place spot at 964 games. Just this season, Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Keith Yandle surpassed Jarvis, and is sitting at 977 consecutive games played as of Tuesday night.

Kessel's streak reaches all the way back to Oct. 31, 2009 when, as a Toronto Maple Leaf, he had to miss a dozen games due to shoulder surgery.

The new dad's impressive longevity has led to some incredible hockey, as he has scored 938 points through 1,178 career games and lifted two Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He has six goals and 34 points with the Coyotes this season.

Phil Kessel had a very eventful Tuesday night. (Photo by Christopher Mast/NHLI via Getty Images)
Phil Kessel had a very eventful Tuesday night. (Photo by Christopher Mast/NHLI via Getty Images)

Perhaps Kessel’s single shift was a boost for the last-place Coyotes, as the team dominated the Red Wings by a score of 9-2.

The ironman winger might not be in Arizona for too much longer, though. With the NHL's March 21 trade deadline rapidly approaching and Kessel’s contract expiring at the end of the season, his services will be sought after around the league to give some offensive depth to those contenders who hope to be champions this summer.

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