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Kovalchuk’s first Canadiens goal comes at perfect time

Critics don’t need to dig too deep to put a damper on Ilya Kovalchuk scoring his first Montreal Canadiens goal in OT to end their miserable slump. You must have a lot of Scrooge energy left over from the holidays not to find this a little cool, though.

I mean, come on. Watch the video above and just try to feel nothing.

(Oh, really? Sheesh.)

Kovalchuk toted the puck up the ice in overtime on Saturday, maybe initially looking to make a pass. The Ottawa Senators gave him a lot of time and space (even by 3-on-3 OT standards), however, and Kovalchuk took advantage to score the clincher. With that, the Canadiens’ miserable eight-game losing streak is over.

Now, sure, the Canadiens are still in trouble. The Lightning and other Atlantic Division teams are pulling away, and one win only means so much. There’s also no denying that the Senators are lousy; this loss pushes Ottawa’s losing streak to seven games.

But it’s still a glorious sight, and a refreshing one for those of us who’ve enjoyed watching Kovalchuk for so long.

The Canadiens shared a really cool angle of the goal here:

Kovalchuk delivering nicely for Canadiens beyond first goal

It’s incredibly early for the 36-year-old winger, no doubt. That said, Kovalchuk’s shown some signs of life, particularly for such a low-risk signing.

The Habs haven’t hesitated to see what he’s capable of. Kovalchuk logged no less than 18:36 TOI through his first four games with Montreal, peaking with 21:22 during a Jan. 7 loss to Detroit.

Kovalchuk generated two assists in that Jan. 7 game, so that contest is in the debate for his best Habs showing alongside Saturday (OTGWG, four shots on goal, 20:26 TOI). So far, Kovalchuk has a point-per-game with one goal and three assists.

Four games ranks as an obviously small sample size. Being that this is the first win of the Kovalchuk era for Montreal, it isn’t a world-changer. Kovalchuk’s early play does make an argument that a change of scenery can give you a big boost from time to time, though.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.