Ilya Kovalchuk
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Forward Ilya Kovalchuk walked away with a moral victory after earning the game-deciding goal in style vs. the New Jersey Devils. 

It’s always a date for New Jersey Devils fans to circle on the calendar when Ilya Kovalchuk returns to the Prudential Center.

Since retiring from the NHL, and ditching the Devils for the Kontinental Hockey League in Russia back in 2012-13, the sniper has now skated at the Rock twice.

While Kovalchuk received loud boos during his first venture back to beautiful Newark, NJ last season in a Los Angeles Kings sweater, tonight’s victory might have been that much sweeter for the Olympic Gold medalist.

The 36-year-old was placed on waivers by the Kings earlier this season and it appeared he was, well, washed up. That didn’t stop a Montreal Canadiens teams from taking a chance on the Russian native when the Habs inked the six-time 40-goal scorer to a one-year contract back in January.

Since that time, Kovalchuk hasn’t just silenced his critics and doubters, but left the Prudential Center speechless after he netted the game-deciding goal in Montreal’s 5-4 shootout victory over New Jersey on Tuesday night.

No. 17 was booed hard any time he possessed the puck on his stick during the contest but continued to skate with energy all night.

The former Devils’ assistant captain didn’t record a point during regulation but was tasked with being the Canadiens’ second shooter during the shootout round. Naturally, the Devils were denied all three times by backup goaltender Charlie Lindgren, while Kovalchuk scored the lone goal in the round.

The right-handed shot sniped New Jersey masked man Louis Domingue after Domingue flashed his leather just prior with a beautiful glove save.

The superstar proceeded to “shush” the crowd with his finger after netting the goal and ultimately walked away with the moral victory.

What’s also interesting is the fact the Devils Twitter account refused to type out his name throughout the night—even after he sniped Domingue.

If one was ever a true fan of Kovalchuk, the chances are you’re happy for him.

Kyle McKenna is a freelancer who covers the NHL for Elite Sports New York, Hooked On Hockey Magazine & Fansided. Follow him on Twitter @KMcKenna_tLT5 and use the hashtag #McKennasDigest to have your NHL questions featured in an article or answered over his weekly NHL podcast.