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Worth the wait

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
In addition to scoring a goal in his playoff debut, Tom Kostopoulos helped set up linemate Bryan Smolinski's second-period marker.

MONTREAL - He may not be quite as young as the five other playoff first-timers in the Habs’ dressing room, but Tom Kostopoulos certainly savored his first taste of NHL postseason action.

With six seasons of NHL duty and over 300 games under his belt, the 29-year-old has pined for his playoff debut for about as long as he can remember.

“As a kid, playing in the playoffs is all you dream about,” admitted Kostopoulos. “At times I began to wonder if it was ever going to happen. All I know is that it was worth the wait. The atmosphere in this building tonight was just crazy. In the first 10 minutes of the game we couldn’t even hear each other speak on the bench!"

The booming sounds of the Phil Collins’ classic “In the Air Tonight” as part of the elaborate pre-game video montage proved to be the perfect primer for Kostopoulos’ playoff debut.

“I’ve been waiting for this moment all season, all week and all day,” revealed Kostopoulos. “I’ve also had trouble getting a good night’s sleep this past week given how eager I was for that first game to arrive. Now that it’s over and we won, it’s time for us to put this one behind us and get ready for Game 2.”

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That could be easier said than done for Kostopoulos, whose goal and assist in Game 1 against the Bruins makes him the unlikeliest of Canadiens 2008 playoff scoring leaders with a team-high two points.

“When you’re a third or fourth-line player, you don’t judge your season by the number of points you end up with,” explained the right winger, who picked up 13 points in 67 games this season. “The true measuring stick is more how many games your team wins and whether or not you make the playoffs. I’m just glad I signed with Montreal this summer.”

Seeing role players like Bryan Smolinski and Kostopoulos each find the net against Bruins wasn’t much of a shock to Mike Komisarek.

“Everyone talks about all the speed and skill we have in this dressing room and that’s certainly true, but that’s only part of the story,” said Komisarek. “We’ve also got a lot of depth on this team. One of the reasons we’ve been so successful this season is that you never know who is going to step up on any given night.”

Despite his seemingly-endless wait, Kostopoulos was that player on this night.

Manny Almela is a writer for
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