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Kings’ Kovalchuk gets 1st goal in NHL return

It was a long wait — almost three and a half years — but Ilya Kovalchuk finally notched career NHL goal No. 418.

Kovachuk, playing in his third game as a Los Angeles King, redirected a nice centering pass from defenseman Drew Doughty Tuesday night for a 1-0 first-period lead over the Winnipeg Jets.

For Kovalchuk, who signed a three-year, $18.75 million contract with the Kings after playing the past five seasons back home in Russia, it’s his first NHL goal since April 25, 2015.

Kovalchuk, 35, played the bulk of his earlier NHL career with the Atlanta Thrashers, a franchise that was then moved to Winnipeg as the second incarnation of the Jets.

Thus, his return goal was scored against the franchise for whom he remains the career scoring leader with 328 goals. That total includes the only two 50-goal seasons in Thrashers-Jets history.

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