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It all began in Boston

Back in 2001, Ilya Kovalchuk scored his first career NHL goal in the Bruins' home rink

by Matt Cudzinowski @CanadiensMTL / canadiens.com

MONTREAL - On October 6, 2001, Ilya Kovalchuk formally introduced himself to his NHL brethren.

The 18-year-old Russian was playing just his second career game for the Atlanta Thrashers when he scored the first of his 442 goals to date.

It came at the then-named FleetCenter in Boston with 3:06 remaining in the first period when Kamil Piros hit a streaking Kovalchuk entering the offensive zone.

Goaltender Byron Dafoe was the former first-overall selection's first victim in between the pipes.

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: Ilya Kovalchuk returns to the scene of his first NHL goal tonight. 📰 https://t.co/DoqeaDNZ2M #GoHabsGo pic.twitter.com/S9C9Yt9Plm

"Nice! It was a good shot," cracked Kovalchuk, after watching the footage of the special snipe from nearly 19 years ago. "It's been a long time, but time flies. Now I have four kids, so life is a little different. But I'm still having fun playing hockey. That's the most important thing."

You better believe Kovalchuk is having a blast. His epic goal celebrations since joining the Canadiens in early January are proof positive of that.

We simply can't get enough of them.

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: Ilya Kovalchuk marque le but gagnant @EASportsNHL 3 contre 3! Encore.Ilya Kovalchuk with the @EASportsNHL 3-on-3 winner! Again.#GoHabsGo | #HockeyIsForEveryone pic.twitter.com/JMA1ThY4Uy

But memories of that very first marker, in particular, will remain with him forever.

He was hoping to see the footage again someday after failing to track it down online.

"I've never seen that clip," admitted Kovalchuk. "I tried to find it because my kids asked me to show them my first goal. I couldn't find it on YouTube."

As for the puck, it's safely stored away at his Moscow home.

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: ��A DEVAIT ��TRE KOVY!OF COURSE IT'S KOVY!#GoHabsGo pic.twitter.com/LEoHfXp355

Kovalchuk has 12 career goals in Beantown, so stay tuned for Wednesday night's matchup at TD Garden.

"Hopefully I'll score a few more goals in that rink," said Kovalchuk, who still keeps in close contact with former Thrashers teammates Dany Heatley, Marc Savard and Vyacheslav Kozlov, among others. "We'll see."

We're definitely looking forward to it!

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