Alex Kovalev catching fire down the stretch wouldn't good be news for fellow Eastern Conference playoff hopefuls.
MONTREAL - After grabbing headlines of late for anything but his specialty, Alex Kovalev was back doing what he does best on Saturday night against the Capitals-scoring goals.
With a pair of goals against Washington in a must-win game for the Canadiens, Kovalev continued a season-long trend which should bode well for Montreal down the stretch. The Canadiens are now a whopping 12-3 when Kovalev lights the lamp in 2006-07.
Kovalev fooled Olaf Kolzig on a wraparound to get the Canadiens on the board in the first period. He then shovelled in a rebound during a second-period power-play for his 16th goal of the year to put the Habs ahead to stay. While he has certainly scored prettier goals, Kovalev isn't going for style these days with a playoff spot hanging in the balance.
"It's already a great sign to see that we're getting more scoring chances," said Kovalev. "But it still feels good to score a couple of goals no matter the type. In the end all that matters is that the puck crosses the line."
When it comes to Kovalev, the weather isn't the only thing that heats up in the spring. Over the course of his 14-year NHL career, Kovalev has now piled up 137 total points in March, the most of any other month.
A fired up No. 27 was also a welcome sight for head coach Guy Carbonneau, who knows all too well that a red-hot Kovalev will make the Habs' road to a playoff spot that much smoother.
"Alex is an emotional guy and he looked really good tonight," said Carbonneau. "We need him to play at the level we know he can on this final stretch to the playoffs. His experience is also big for us because we need him to help show our younger guys the way."
It marked the fifth two-goal game for Kovalev since coming over to the Canadiens late in 2003-04, with his last multi-goal night dating back to a 4-3 win over the Bruins in Boston on April 13, 2006.
"Kovy's been coming on lately, but he just couldn't buy a break," said Koivu, who assisted on Kovalev's second goal that proved to be the game-winner. "He scored a pair tonight that were huge for us right now."
When the game over and the two important points were in the bank,, Kovalev's first star selection was followed by a rousing ovation as he blew his usual kisses to the crowd.
"Support from the fans is so important, especially here in Montreal," added Kovalev. "Win or lose they're always behind us and it feels really good to be able to repay them with the type of effort we've shown here lately."
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com