Melker Karlsson (Jonathan Kozub/Getty Images)
With a goal tonight, Melker Karlsson will join Filip Forsberg as rookies to go on six-game goal-scoring streaks this season. While incredible, six-straight games with a goal still puts Karlsson eight games off the rookie record. In honor of Karlsson’s hunt for history, we look at five great rookie streaks that may never fall.
Heading into tonight’s game, San Jose’s Melker Karlsson is on quite the run. With five goals in five games, he’s on a streak that would be impressive for a veteran, but it’s more impressive considering Karlsson is in his first season.
While Karlsson’s streak doesn’t come from the beginning of his career, it doesn’t make it any less remarkable. It’s impossible to believe Joe Malone began his career with 14 straight goals to begin his NHL career in 1917-18, but most of the current marks for rookie streaks, to start a career or otherwise, have come in the last 10 years.
Geno debuts with goals in six straight
When Evgeni Malkin burst onto the scene in 2005-06, he set the league on fire out of the gate. He scored goals in six straight games, including one of the prettiest goals of his career during an Oct. 24 game against the New Jersey Devils. The spinning, falling tally was nothing short of brilliant.
The six-game streak is the modern day mark for goal scoring by a rookie to start a career, and quite possibly the truer record. Malone’s mark in 1917-18 came in the NHL’s first season and was the first season of every player’s NHL career, so it actually fudges the numbers a bit. Others, like Filip Forsberg this season and Michael Grabner in 2011, have reached six game scoring streaks, but none have done it from the start of their career. Even Teemu Selanne, who registered eight- and nine-game streaks during his rookie campaign, didn’t go on the run Malkin did from the start of his career.
Bruins Russian rookie Kvartalnov sets record
When it comes to points, the best mark to start a career comes from Boston Bruins Dmitri Kvartalnov. He only played two seasons in the NHL, a total of 112 games, and scored 42 goals and 91 points. But in his rookie season, from his first NHL game on, Kvartalnov registered at least a point in 14 straight games, good enough for 12 goals and 22 points. Kvartalnov played in 73 games and registered 30 goals and 72 points.
After the 1993-94 season, Kvartalnov left for the Swiss League, suiting up for HC Ambri-Piotta. He never returned to the NHL, but still holds the record for longest point-scoring streak to begin a career. There have been others that have challenged Kvartalnov’s mark in recent years, though.
In recent history, Alex Ovechkin's 2005-06 season gave us one of the best streaks. The streak, an eight game run to begin his career, was more indicative of the type of career that Ovechkin would have than Kvartalnov’s was. But Ovechkin’s eight-game streak was bested two years later by Jonathan Toews.
Toews came out firing with a 10-game, 10-point streak. There have been few players in league history that have set out on a point streak like Toews did to begin their career. But one of Toews' divisional rivals holds the record for the best rookie point streak, period.
Stastny’s snipes way past Selanne
From Feb. 3 though to March 17, Paul Stastny had a 20-game point streak, not only besting the Quebec/Colorado franchise record of 16 games which had been set by his father, but topping Selanne’s 17-game streak. The scoring streak also put Stastny in elite company, as he became the third-youngest player in NHL history to record a point streak of 20 games or more, right behind Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.
The 11 goals and 29 points over the streak vaulted Stastny into the Calder Trophy conversation, and though he didn’t quite win, it definitely put the young gun on the map.
Lalime lights out in 1996-97
When it comes to stopping the puck, no one has had a start to a career quite like Patrick Lalime. Breaking into the league in 1996-97 with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Lalime went 16 games without taking a loss. His 14 wins and two ties stand as the best mark in NHL history.
It wasn’t enough to solidify a starting spot for Lalime, however, as he spent the next two seasons in the IHL before landing with the Ottawa Senators in 1999-00 and becoming the team’s starting goaltender the following season. Lalime would go on to a career record of 200-174-48.
Hackett all-time rookie shutout leader... without a shutout
The strangest rookie goaltending mark, and maybe one of the oddest records in the book, belongs to Matt Hackett, who holds the NHL record for shutout minutes to start a career. It’s odd in that Hackett doesn’t have an NHL shutout to his name.
Hackett debuted in 2011-12 with Minnesota Wild, and made his first appearance in relief of Josh Harding after Harding was injured just 1:11 into the first period of a Dec. 6, 2011 game against the San Jose Sharks. Hackett would stop 34 shots as the Wild went on to a 2-1 victory, and Hackett got the call two nights later against the Los Angeles Kings.
With his shutout streak riding into the third period, Kings winger Dustin Brown fired one past Hackett 3:59 into the frame. Hackett was credited with 102 minutes, 48 seconds of shutout hockey, breaking the record of 100 minutes, 21 seconds set by Dave Gatherum in 1953. In his next three appearances, all in relief, Hackett would stop all 24 of the shots he faced.