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Milestone Man

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

BUFFALO -- A veteran Hab enjoyed a milestone night while the Canadiens inched closer to an all-time NHL record on Friday.

Following a convincing 7-2 win against the Sabres to kick off the weekend by improving to 8-0-0, the Canadiens are now just two wins shy of tying a mark shared by Buffalo and Toronto for the best start to a season in NHL history.

But perhaps lost in the excitement of yet another big win was the career-high five-point effort by defenseman Andrei Markov, who reached the 500-point mark at the First Niagara Center.

Case in point, Brendan Gallagher didn’t even know the feat had been achieved following the game.

“He got five? I knew he was good, but a five-point night is pretty special,” said Gallagher with a laugh in regards to his teammate who became the first NHL defenseman over 36 years of age to pick up five points in a single night since the 1987-88 season.

No offense, of course, since that's probably just the way the reliable D-man likes it.

“Of course it was a special night. I never thought I would reach 500 points, but it’s all about the team effort,” underlined the Voskresensk, RU native who was quick to credit those around him as nine different Habs left Western New York with points added to their totals. “It’s really thanks to my teammates who have been there to support me all of this time.”

But could it also be that the Habs’ sixth-round pick from 1998 is really just one of the best at what he does?

“I don’t know. Maybe I just got lucky tonight,” cracked Markov with a smile, staying true to himself even though he leads the NHL in points for a defenseman through eight games.

Fortunately, the rest of the team was more than willing to give credit where it was due.

“He’s been playing some great hockey, and he’s been a great influence on me -- a real role model. Tonight’s just another lesson for me to learn from,” dished the soon-to-be 37-year-old’s partner on the blue line, P.K. Subban. “I see a lot of myself in Marky, from the way that he plays, to what he’s able to see on the ice. He’s similar to a guy like Niklas Lidstrom. They can both go all night. You might not notice them, but they’ll end the night with a couple of points on the stat sheet. He does his job quietly, and that’s something I try to do too.”

It was likewise a similar tune from Gallagher, who benefited from a Markov assist on his third-period goal and second of the night.

“Those are a pretty undercover 500 points. Year after year, he keeps coming back and does the same thing for us,” continued the Russian blue liner’s fellow alternate captain. “ He’s so good with the puck, he makes such smart plays, and he just understands the game. A big congratulations to him.”

It seemed like just a year ago that the Habs couldn’t solve the Sabres. These days no team has been able to solve the Habs.

Despite the superb season the team has enjoyed so far however, no one knows how quickly fortunes can turn around if you don’t keep putting in the work better than the man of the night himself.

“We followed our game plan tonight, and at the end of the evening it paid off,” concluded Markov. “But our next challenge is tomorrow and now it’s time to move on.”

- Steven Nechay is a writer for

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