DALLAS - There had been 49,575 games between the time the NHL opened for business on Dec. 19, 1917 and the conclusion of Wednesday night's contests.
And while two sets of twin brothers - Rich and Ron Sutter; Petr and Patrik Sundstrom - had played against each other 35 times, not once had twins faced other where one brother was a skater and the other was a goaltender.
Not until last night, that is.
Because when the Stars promoted center Joel Lundqvist from their AHL Iowa team late Wednesday, that set up a showdown here last night against Rangers' netminder Henrik Lundqvist, his identical twin.
"Joel sent me a text on my phone Wednesday saying that Dallas had this new great scorer and I'd be better be ready," Henrik said following yesterday's morning skate. "It was funny; I knew what he meant."
The Lundqvist Twins - Henrik is the older by 40 minutes - had been teammates throughout their Swedish careers until Henrik made the leap last season to the NHL. Joel followed this year. He'd played four games with the Stars when previously recalled from Iowa, where he had 22 points (8-14) in 25 games.
"We lived together for 20 years. I know how he feels a lot of the time, but it's not as if when he gets hurt, I can feel pain," Joel said. "We of course were very much alike when we were growing up, and it was almost like we were one person growing up as kids, but were developed our own personalities when we were 16 or 17 years old."
The twins' parents, Petr and Eva, were not here last night. In fact, they were in New York, having just arrived from Sweden for the holiday. Henrik said the plan is for them to spend one week with him and then one week with Joel.
"Yes, they have a trip booked to Iowa after New York," Joel said, laughing.
Henrik was back in nets after sitting the last two in favor of Kevin Weekes. That seemed to have energized him as much as the opportunity to be part of NHL history.
"I've been on the bench for two games, so it's exciting for me to be back," Henrik said. "Facing my twin feels a little bit strange, I can tell you that."
Joel said that his twin's success in the NHL hasn't taken him by surprise. "I'm not surprised at how good, but it's been amazing how big he is," said Joel.
"That's been a surprise." Neither twin was prepared to say whether either would be surprised if Lundqvist came in against Lundqvist on a penalty shot or a shootout, where Henrik was a perfect 22-for-22.
"I don't tell everyone his weaknesses, but I know," Joel said good-naturedly. "If I get a breakaway, I know what to do." Said Henrik: "We practiced against each other all the time, so I know where he's going even if it doesn't help me all the time."
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