MONTREAL — One of the more impressive aspects of the Canadiens’ performance in Game 6 was the presence of 21-year-old defenseman Nathan Beaulieu, who played his first NHL playoff game.
Beaulieu had one assist and finished plus-2 in 9 minutes 36 seconds of ice time. His assist came when he threw the puck ahead for Max Pacioretty, whose goal gave the Habs a 2-0 lead at 15:24 of the second period.
“He played awesome,’’ said Pacioretty. “He’s a terrific skater. There’s no way I could play like that after not playing a game for so long. That heads-up play, I saw the shot from my point got blocked so I just wanted to try to stretch [the defense] out and obviously, it bounced off two guys, but it was a heads-up play by Beaulieu.’’
Beaulieu said he was paying attention to where Pacioretty was on the play.
“I got the puck and I looked up ice and I saw Max streaking,’’ said Beaulieu. “I fired as quick as I could. It was a lucky bounce [off a defender] and Max, as fast as he is, he chased it down and buried it. It was nice.’’
The inclusion of Beaulieu meant a sideline seat for Douglas Murray and Francis Bouillon.
Beaulieu was a first-round pick in 2011 (No. 17 overall). Prior to Monday, he had played in 23 NHL contests, all in the regular season, with four assists and a plus-11 rating.
He said it was tough to describe how it felt playing in such an important game.
“As soon as I knew I was going to play I was real excited,’’ said Beaulieu. “I wanted to take it shift by shift and just get my feet wet.’’
Beaulieu was paired with veteran Mike Weaver and they did a lot of talking on the bench, with Weaver helping him between shifts.
“I told him before the game to talk to me a lot because I have not played a game in a while,’’ said Beaulieu. “I just wanted him to be as vocal as he could with me because it helps a lot and he did a great job.’’
Watch word: Vanek
Pacioretty wasn’t the only player who was a standout on offense for Montreal. Linemate Thomas Vanek had a pair of goals, one at 17:39 of the second period during a power play to give the Habs a 3-0 lead, and the other with 3:56 remaining in the third.
Pacioretty said there is something to be learned from watching Vanek.
“He lets the game come to him,’’ he said. “He doesn’t push anything. He waits for his chances and he makes the best of them and you can learn a lot from a guy like that.’’
Price deflects praise
Goaltender Carey Price made 26 saves in earning the shutout. He deferred praise, saying everything was done as a unit. “Even when we were running around a little bit, I thought we were doing a good job of getting in shooting lanes and doing whatever it took to keep it out of the net,’’ Price said. Price said it was important for his team not to be distracted. “We didn’t get sucked into any of the post-whistle stuff,’’ he said. “We just played them hard and that’s what we’ve got to do.’’ . . . The Canadiens broke their streak without an even-strength goal. They went into Game 6 without one for a span of 147 minutes, 27 seconds, before Lars Eller converted a giveaway at 2:11 of the first period.