Kings’ Ilya Kovalchuk scores first goal since his return from Russia


It was a long wait — almost five-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 on Tuesday night in the first period of a 2-1 loss to 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, 2013.

Kovalchuk, 35, played the bulk of his earlier NHL career with the Atlanta Thrashers, a franchise that 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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