Saku Koivu earned first star honors with a pair of goals against the Maple Leafs Saturday night at the Bell Centre.
MONTREAL – As has been so often the case over the years, Saku Koivu led and his teammates followed.
Mired in a 12-game slump, Koivu grabbed the Maple Leafs by the throat, scoring the first two goals of the night in a huge 4-1 win over Toronto. The game marked Koivu’s second two-goal effort of the season, with the Canadiens’ captain having also potted a pair against the Hurricanes on opening night back on Oct.3.
As a former captain himself, head coach Guy Carbonneau knows all to well that no one took the Canadiens' recent slide harder than Koivu.
“There’s been a lot of criticism thrown Saku’s way about him being done, but that is far from the case,” vowed Carbonneau, whose team is now a perfect 5-0 when his captain scores a goal. “He always gives it all he’s got, but he just needed a little lift lately. Adding Sergei Kostitsyn to that line brings an element of speed that has clearly created a spark. The connection on that line was immediate.”
With a combined five points on the night, the line of Koivu, Kostitsyn and Christopher Higgins continued to shine in their second game together as a line.
“When you play with confidence, everything falls into place and good things happen,” said Koivu after notching his six and seventh goals of the season. “It’s normal when you’re not scoring to second-guess yourself and not stick to playing your game. Scoring two goals always feels good, but when you also get the two points, nothing beats that.”
If Koivu’s mojo seems to be rising, he isn’t alone.
“Our confidence as a team is growing right now. You can really feel it and see it in the eyes of every guy in the room,” said Koivu, the game’s first star. “We’ve been playing well the last three games, and it’s now up to us to get this going.”
Higgins wasn’t too concerned about his linemate’s recent dry spell.
“Saku’s been playing hard - the way he always does - and doing the right things,” said Higgins, who set the table for both of Koivu's goals. “I knew it was only a matter of time before he had a breakout game.
“Nothing surprises me when it comes to Saku,” added Higgins. “Seeing him step up the way he did tonight is nothing new to me. That’s just the type of guy and the type of leader he is.”