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|23 января 2013 года.
Markov blasts in pair of goals; 2-year drought ends in style // The Gazette
You want Montreal wind-chill, the topic of conversation Tuesday in a city that was plunging overnight to a feels-like minus 40 - the only place where the Fahrenheit and Celsius scales meet?
Florida Panthers goaltender Scott Clemmensen is feeling major-league windburn still this morning, thanks to a 7-million km/h (to exaggerate a little) slapshot unleashed by Canadiens defenceman Andrei Markov at the Bell Centre.
Markov's howitzer, probably the hardest shot by a Habs defenceman since Sheldon Souray was unleashing his cannons in these parts, came on the power-play 13: 24 into the first period.
If nothing else, it proved the strength of the mesh twine in the 6x4-foot net, which probably yelped when struck.
(For Clemmensen, the never-seen Markov shot was hockey's version of early 1900s fireballing pitcher Christy Mathewson of the New York Giants. A batter once famously turned to an umpire questioning a Mathewson called strike, saying, "It sounded a little high to me.")
This was Markov's first NHL goal since Nov. 9, 2010 - a span of two years and 2 1/2 months, though this was only the 17th game in total played since that date by the snake-bitten rearguard.
Markov enjoyed the arms-pumped feeling of Tuesday's goal so much that he ripped another one, again on the power-play, 8: 31 into the second period.
That shot, though not quite as hard as his first, hit the bottom of the net behind Clem-mensen with a loud clank.
The wonderful night's work earned Markov second star of the game; his curtain-call, not that he minded, was deep in the shadows of that cast by 18-year-old Alex Galchenyuk, whose first NHL goal practically lifted the roof off the Bell Centre, a roar that truly was of playoff-crowd quality.
"We have special fans, and (a player's) first goal is always special," Markov said, surveying the small city of reporters that had horseshoed Galchenyuk into his stall on the other side of the dressing room.
"I think every guy in the room is happy for him. Now he just has to work hard and score more goals."
There was no chest-pounding in Markov's stall as he stood in a track suit, happier to talk about the Canadiens' 4-1 victory, following a 2-1 season-opening loss.
But still, he'd be led to talk about his two ferocious goal-scoring blasts, coming during his team-leading 23: 06 on the ice.
Has he shot a puck as hard as he did on his first goal, ever? he was asked.
Markov laughed. "I guess not."
When he has the time to wind up into almost last week, from a few strides beyond the outer edge of the faceoff circles, does the net look huge?
"Actually," he replied, "it looks small."
Did he remember the last time he scored twice in a game?
"I guess in my dreams," he said, grinning, though he should know it was in fact on Dec. 19, 2009, his first game back in his return from surgery to repair a slashed foot, suffered in the first game of the 2009-10 season.
How did it feel to score again, finally?
"What do you mean, finally?" he replied, deadpan. "I don't remember my injuries. I'm looking forward. I'm happy the team won. The whole team played great. Every goal is special, every win is special. I'm happy to be back and be healthy, playing in front of our fans."
New waves of reporters arrived at Markov's stall, shuffling over from Galchenyuk's audience, and he found a different spin for a reply to a question about his first goal.
"I was lucky. I just closed my eyes and shot to the net."
Clearly, this night largely belonged to Galchenyuk. His maiden goal was assisted by Brandon Prust, giving the free-agent signing his first point as a Canadien, and 20-year-old Brendan Gallagher, who earned his first NHL point in his debut game. There was much talk before this one about the latest homecoming of former Canadien Alex Kovalev, who landed himself a one-year contract with the Panthers after a short stretch last season in Russia's Kontin-ental Hockey League.
A month from his 40th birthday, Kovalev continues to show flashes of magic on his stick-blade, having scored and assisted twice in the Panthers' season-opener Saturday.
But Kovalev, cheered loudly here in pregame introductions then booed every time he touched the puck, was invisible Monday in Ottawa and nearly as transparent against the Canadiens.
Kovalev registered just a single shot on goal here and finished minus-1, blowing his checking assignment on the game's first goal by Montreal's Tomas Plekanec 3: 26 into the opening period.
"I've missed being on the ice. I'm happy I had a chance to come back to the NHL," he said after the Panthers' optional morning skate Tuesday. "I still love this game. I love playing and the idea of winning, the celebration, travelling and being with teammates."
There was little for the Panthers to celebrate on Tuesday, 5-1 winners in their opener and 4-0 and 4-1 losers in the next two.
The Canadiens, meanwhile, provided returning head coach Michel Therrien with his first second-tour-of-duty victory, coming in his 501st NHL game.
A nice part of that credit goes to Markov, who teed up two shots that were only rumours to a goaltender who is still looking for either.
"You just shoot the puck and hopefully it's a scoring chance or a goal," Markov said.
With two on the scoresheet, did he entertain even a single thought of a hat trick?
"Next time," he replied. "Maybe."