If this was the last time Saku Koivu laces up his skates in Montreal, it was exactly the way he imagined it.
The former Canadiens captain, who played 13 years with the club before signing with Anaheim in 2009, received a standing ovation from the Bell Centre crowd after Montreal's 4-1 victory over the Ducks on Thursday night.
"It was emotional," Koivu said. "I had the whole building behind me. It was nice. A big thank you for that. I felt great before the game. And obviously at the end, that was amazing."
Koivu hasn't announced his retirement, but there's speculation the 38-year-old will retire at the end of the season.
If that's the case, Koivu won't skate again in the city he captained for a decade.
"It's overwhelming to be there, to get that reaction from the fans. It just shows how passionate they are, and shows their appreciation.
"You don't know how to react. You want to keep the focus on the game. And moments like that, it's not easy. The emotions get the most out of you."
This wasn't Koivu's first return to Montreal since he left the city that drafted him in the first round in 1993. In January 2011, he beat his old team 4-3.
On Thursday, the Ducks struggled against the Canadiens.
Montreal was up 2-0 at the end of the first period on goals by Michael Bournival and Tomas Plekanec.
The Ducks came out firing in the second but couldn't beat Carey Price, who made 31 saves.
"We didn't let up," captain Brian Gionta said. "We knew they were going to have a push. We absorbed it and kept the momentum.
"Big part is to continue to play our game and not open up. When the other team presses, you have to make sure you stick with your game plan."
Gionta and Rene Bourque also scored for the Habs.
Patrick Maroon scored for Anaheim.
After pressure by the Canadiens to start the game, Bournival scored his second of the season to put the Habs ahead 1-0 at 11:39 of the first period.
Bournival tipped a blue-line shot from Nathan Beaulieu past Anaheim goalie Jonas Hiller. The assist was Beaulieu's first point in his fourth game this season.
Canadiens coach Michel Therrien praised Bournival.
"The more he plays, the more confidence we have in his play," Therrien said. "He's creating good plays with his intensity and his speed. He skates really well. He competes.
"It's fun to see a young player, as the season goes on, even if it's early in the season, who's making good decision and playing with a lot of confidence."
Plekanec added to the Canadiens' lead five minutes later. Bournival intercepted a missed clearance from Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf in the Anaheim zone and passed the puck over to a wide-open Plekanec, who scored his fifth of the season.
"When you respect the system, good things happen," Bournival said of the team's second goal. "I was well-positioned in my forechecking. We'll definitely take a goal like that."
Two quick penalties to Mathieu Perreault and Cam Fowler midway through the second period were costly for Anaheim. Gionta struck early into the 5-on-3 advantage, tapping in the rebound after a Plekanec shot from behind the net rolled off Hiller's arm.
Maroon spoiled Price's shutout bid at 8:58 of the third, firing a wrist shot off the post and in past a sprawling Price to make it 3-1.
Bourque added Montreal's fourth of the night at 12:39. Fresh out of the penalty box, Bourque darted toward the net, took a pass from Plekanec and fired a backhand past Hiller.
Hiller made 21 saves.
Teemu Selanne, another NHL veteran, also played what could be his last game in Montreal.
The 43-year-old — the oldest active player in the NHL — is retiring at the end of the season and was kept off the score sheet.
Notes: The Canadiens were still without Max Pacioretty, Brandon Prust and Daniel Briere. All three forwards sustained injuries last week. ... Montreal welcomes the San Jose Sharks on Saturday. ... The Ducks are on a two-week, eight-game road trip that began with a 4-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday.