Earlier this summer, the Los Angeles Kings won the Ilya Kovalchyuk sweepstakes, signing the coveted free agent to a three-year contract as the Russian sniper made his return to the National Hockey League.
After spending the past five years with SKA St. Petersburg in the Kontinental Hockey League, Kolvachyuk does not seem to be needing some adjustment time back in the NHL.
On Sunday, the veteran forward had his first two NHL assists in nearly five and half years, leading the Kings to a 4-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. He got on an NHL scoresheet for the first time since he left the New Jersey Devils in 2013.
Kovalchuk’s first point with the Kings also was his 400th career assist when he set up captain Anze Kopitar’s goal in the second period. He then pounced on a puck in the corner during the third period and made a beautiful pass to Alex Iafallo for the Kings’ third tally of the contest.
With two beautiful scoring passes to his linemates on the Kings’ top line, Kovalchuk recorded his first multipoint NHL game since April 25, 2013.
On Tuesday night, Kovalchyuk seemed ready for his first NHL goal in 1,993 days as the Kings faced the Winnipeg Jets.
The 35-year-old forward deflected the puck in the Jets’ net, beating star goalie Connor Hellebuyck to give his team the lead in the game.
You can see Kovalchyuk’s beautiful goal in the video above, atop of the article.
Kovalchuk was assisted by defenseman Drew Doughty, who sniped the puck towards the net and Iafallo.
This is the first contest of a four-game Canadian road trip for the Kings. Jets' Bryan Little revealed to the Winnipeg Sun before the contest that he was excited to see Kovalchyuk back in action in the NHL.
“It’s really cool,” Little said of Kovalchuk’s return. “You don’t see too many KHL games and I haven’t seen him play much the last few years, so it’s kind of cool to see him back in the league, seeing what he’s capable of still.
“He was a great guy. He was always nice to me, really good with the young guys, a really good leader. I guess he’s known for that shot. He had a really nice release, had a lot of speed for a guy his size. We’ll see if he’s still got it.”
He sure does. We bet Kovakchyuk has missed scoring goals in the NHL and this one will not be the last!