At home on October 18, 2006, the Penguins lost 2-1 in regulation to the New Jersey Devils.
The loss felt like an unremarkable regular-season game. Evgeni Malkin’s late tying goal in the second period wasn’t enough to down the Devils, who struck in the third period before effectively stifling the Penguins’ offense.
But that day may have ended up becoming one of the most momentous games in Penguins history. It was the first time Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang skated together in the same contest.
Jake Guentzel had just turned twelve years old. Martin Brodeur and Nicklas Lidström had just been featured in the NHL All-Star game. Gas prices averaged $2.20 a gallon, and Mellon Arena was still going to be the Penguins’ home for four more years.
Who could have guessed that, 17 years later, Crosby, Malkin and Letang would still be skating together?
Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang are set to play in their 17th season together, the most among a trio in NHL history.— Penguins PR (@PenguinsPR) July 13, 2022
With all three players in the lineup, Pittsburgh has won 375 games with a winning percentage of .647 pic.twitter.com/i4hIbQVmIL
The trio has played 761 games together, including 626 regular-season contests, according to Bob Grove.
By the time their careers wrap up in Pittsburgh, will they be able to claim the title of the trio with the most wins in NHL history?
The winningest trio in NHL history, per Penguins PR, is Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton. This trio combined for a stunning 493 wins over 13 seasons with the San Jose Sharks.
The Penguins trio is 118 wins shy of matching this record.
In full seasons under Mike Sullivan, the Penguins have always finished with between 40 and 50 wins. Assuming all three stay healthy the entire time, the trio could match the record by the time Crosby’s current contract ends at the end of the 2024-25 campaign.
Let’s add in a dose of realism. Over 17 years, these three have averaged just 37 games together per season. At that pace, the trio would need over five seasons— the entire length of Letang’s extension— to match the Sharks record, by which time the three would be in their forties.
So it’s a long-shot that Letang, Crosby and Malkin could break the record together— but never say never when it comes to the longest-running trio in NHL history.