MONTREAL - The men Andrei Markov shares a locker room with aren't just his teammates, they're also some of his biggest fans.
After watching the 38-year-old further cement his place in Canadiens history by tying Hall-of-Famer Guy Lapointe for second place on the franchise's all-time points list among defensemen on Tuesday night in a 4-1 win over the Dallas Stars, Markov's colleagues took tremendous pride in his latest accomplishment.
The all-important 572nd point of Markov's career came at the 13:02 mark of the third period when the veteran Russian rearguard fed young gun Artturi Lehkonen for a blast that beat Stars netminder Kari Lehtonen and put the Canadiens up by two.
Video: DAL@MTL: Lehkonen buries Markov's milestone dish
The Bell Centre faithful responded moments later with a remarkable ovation in Markov's honor, paying tribute to the outstanding body of work he's managed to compile since first donning the CH during the 2000-01 campaign.
"I couldn't think of a guy that's more deserving. You look at the years that I've played with him. He's overcome so many obstacles, so much adversity. I'm so happy for him," said captain Max Pacioretty, who snapped a six-game goal drought on Tuesday night, notching his team-leading 34th goal of the season. "He's probably the best player I've played with and it's just really, really nice to see him get rewarded."
Video: Max Pacioretty on Andrei Markov's success
Brendan Gallagher was equally impressed by the raucous applause Markov received when he was featured solo on the scoreboard following Lehkonen's marker. Like Pacioretty, the Canadiens' No. 11 clearly has a great deal of admiration for the way Markov continues to go about his business year after year.
"That was pretty special. Everything that he's done in this uniform, for this city, it's weird to say, but he's probably still a little underrated for everything that he's accomplished," said Gallagher, who also lit the lamp in the win that upped the Canadiens' lead atop the Atlantic Division to four points over Ottawa. "For him to play as long as he has, and be as successful as he has, he's a great role model for young players coming into the organization - seeing how hard he works day after day and everything that he's accomplished. He's definitely a special player."
Special, yes, and a rather humble one, too. Admittedly, Markov didn't really believe he'd find himself so high up on this particular list one day, but he's grateful for having been given the opportunity to make it happen in the only NHL home he's ever known.
"I didn't think I was going to be there. What I did is I just played my game. Without my teammates, I'm not going to be here standing in front of [the media]. Without my teammates, it's not going to happen. Thanks to all of my teammates and the organization who trusted me. I'm proud to be there," said Markov, who reached the mark in his 985th career NHL game. "I always knew we had best fans in the world. That was nice. I enjoyed it."
Video: Andrei Markov on tying Guy Lapointe
As he should, and those who see him every single day at the rink are convinced that the points and milestones will just keep on coming going forward. After all, Markov is currently the second-leading point-getter on the Canadiens' back end behind Shea Weber with 36 points on the year in 57 games. That's as good an indication as any that he can still bring it on the scoresheet, while being incredibly steadfast defensively as well.
"He's always persevered. You look at everything he's accomplished and I think he's not done yet. He's got some hockey left in him," said Gallagher. "When he sits down at the end of his career, he can definitely be really proud of everything that he's done."