500 reasons to smile for Koivu
Saku Koivu celebrated his milestone point with a come-from-behind win over Atlanta.
MONTREAL - If anyone has raised fans from their seats at the Bell Centre over the past decade it's been Saku Koivu and the Canadiens' captain did it once again by notching his 500th point against the Thrashers.
The combination of Koivu's assist on Michael Ryder's second goal of the night and PA announcer Michel Lacroix's announcement of the milestone sent the crowd into a frenzy that extended into a lengthy standing ovation.
"You never really get used to that of a reaction from the crowd," admitted Koivu, who needed 611 games to the reach the mark. "The fans here in Montreal have often shown me their support since I arrived here. I didn't expect such a big ovation, but I was really touched."
Riding shotgun on Koivu's line since last season, the importance of the moment was not lost on Ryder.
"It's an amazing accomplishment considering everything he's been through," said Ryder, whose second goal of the night came on silver platter courtesy of Koivu. "I mean, 500 points is a lot. I'm really happy I was able to be part of his reaching this milestone."
Koivu becomes the 22nd player in team history to reach the 500-point mark and the first since Guy Carbonneau hit the plateau in a Canadiens 6-1 win over the Whalers in Hartford back on November 25, 1992.
"The ovation from the crowd here tonight didn't surprise me one bit," said Carbonneau, who has earned his fair share of standing ovations from Canadiens fans over the years. "It was no accident that I compared Saku to Steve Yzerman the other day. Saku takes the team to heart, his teammates to heart and the city to heart. He may not get as many points as guys like Joe Sakic and Mike Modano, but people know how much passion goes into everything he does. It would be impossible to ask for anything more."
The next stop for Koivu on the Habs all-time point list will be general manager Bob Gainey, who sits just one point ahead of him at 501.
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com