MONTREAL -- Montreal loves Alexander Radulov, and the feeling is mutual.
When the capacity crowd breaks into "Radu! Radu! Radu!" chants twice in a single night -- and that's before the standing ovation which came for being named the night's first star -- you get the feeling it's just the start of something special.
"I don't know how to say it, I got the tickles -- the goosebumps or whatever. It's a good feeling and it's nice to get that from the fans," shared Radulov postgame, on the reception he continues to receive at the Bell Centre three home games into the season. "I've enjoyed every day since I've arrived in Montreal. The people here are nice and they love hockey. I've never seen people follow hockey so closely. It's great, because I love hockey too."
Though you're bound to be a fan favorite any time you set up the night's first two goals before notching one yourself with the empty-netter, Radulov brings more to the table than his elite playmaking abilities.
"He brings a lot of enthusiasm. Every day, he comes in and just enjoys playing the game -- he's an awesome teammate to have," underlined Carey Price, who picked up his third win in as many starts with a 31-save effort on Monday. "He's awesome to hang out with, and he just enjoys being here. He brings a lot of positive vibes to the locker room."
"He's a passionate player and he loves producing. As you can tell he gets happy when he produces -- and that's good energy," cracked captain Max Pacioretty, referencing the 30-year-old's enthusiastic celebration after Brendan Gallagher tipped his shot past Steve Mason in the third to take the lead. "He played great. He's really strong on the puck, and he got the breaks tonight -- but those are the breaks he's deserved the past couple of games because he's been working hard and playing well."Video: PHI@MTL: Gallagher tips in Radulov's shot for a PPG
When it comes to working hard however, anything less is non-negotiable for the talented winger.
"I try to prepare myself and always give 100%. It wasn't easy for me to come back to this league, I'll be honest with you. I really appreciate that the GM gave me a chance, so anything less is not an option," admitted Radulov, who returned to the NHL this season following a lengthy stint in his native Russia. "I'm 30 years-old. I'm still young, but I didn't play [in the NHL] for basically eight years. I got nine games with Nashville in [2011-12], but then didn't play again for four years. The league's changed and there a lot of new players, so I need to work hard."
As long as he continues to do so, this is one love story that could end up with a fairy tale ending.Video: PHI@MTL: Radulov seals a 3-1 win with empty-net goal
"It's not often you get a chance to score a lot of goals, so games like this are fun to play, and even more fun to win."