PITTSBURGH -- Two of the National Hockey League teams he played for no longer exist, but goalie Gilles Meloche is still very much in business at age 37.

The NHL's oldest player has again become Pittsburgh's No. 1 goaltender after the Penguins had penciled him in only for backup duty.

"I never go into a season thinking I'm going to play any number of games," said Meloche, who has played in 26 of the Penguins' 44 games, the most of any Penguins goalie. "If they want me to play 20 games, I'm ready for that. If they tell me to play 50, I'm ready for that, too."

The other Penguins goalies are 28-year-old Pat Riggin, who has been inconsistent, and rookie Frank Pietrangelo, who gained a 4-3 victory over Chicago Saturday after spending much of the season in the minors.

Meloche, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery during training camp, didn't play in the first seven games but has carried most of the load since late November and is 8-9-5 with a 3.99 goals against average.

Pittsburgh Coach Pierre Creamer's only concession to Meloche's age has been giving the veteran an occasional day off from practice. "Right now, Gilles is the guy we need in there," Creamer said.

"I never thought I'd play this long," said Meloche, who was drafted by Chicago in 1970 and played for the California Golden Seals and Cleveland Barons.