|Tom Kostopoulos’ heroics capped off the Canadiens’ come-from-behind win over the Flyers. |
MONTREAL - You never know who might emerge as an overtime hero in the playoffs. Just ask Tom Kostopoulos.
No stranger to hard work, putting in a little overtime was only fitting for Kostopoulos on Thursday night. Ending up with the winning goal on his stick 48 seconds into the extra frame is another story.
“It was really exciting to score a goal like that. It’s definitely the biggest one I’ve ever scored in my life,” admitted Kostopoulos. “But if Saku doesn’t win that crucial faceoff with 35 seconds left and Kovy doesn’t score that huge goal to bail us out, I’d be sitting here telling you about how on Saturday we need to bounce back from being down 1-0 in this series.”
Judging from the reaction of a capacity crowd and his teammates, Kostopoulos isn’t the only one not about to forget his first career NHL playoff OT goal. Linemate Steve Begin was left wondering if his partner in crime had even realized what he’d just done.
“I’m sure he’s still on a cloud,” assumed Begin. “I can’t even imagine how he’s feeling right now.”
While thrilled to have drawn first blood in the series, the Game 1 hero isn’t about to start having delusions of grandeur.
“We can’t get ahead of ourselves here either,” warned Kostopoulos, who now has three playoff goals, one shy of team leaders Alex Kovalev and Andrei Kostitsyn. “The reason we’re enjoying success as a line right now is we keep things simple. This isn’t the time to change our approach and start thinking we're an offensive line. If we keep playing well defensively and continue neutralizing opposing top lines, our scoring chances will come.”
Torn from the same cloth, Begin echoed his fellow winger’s recipe for success.
“We don’t do anything complicated, our game is pretty simple and we only get ourselves in trouble when we stray from it,” added Begin. “It just comes down to hard work and giving that second and third effort and that’s what T.K. is all about.”
Kostopoulos’ often-overlooked efforts may not normally make headlines, but they sure hit home with his head coach.
“Players like Tom don’t always get the credit they deserve during the regular season,” said Guy Carbonneau, who also brought his lunch pail to every game in his playing days. “He works incredibly hard, blocks shots and kills penalties. What he does for us often goes unnoticed. It’s his first taste of the playoffs and I think he’ll remember this for a long time.”Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com