MONTREAL -- Tuesday's seven-point pairing was a long time coming.
On a night when Habs newcomer Alexander Radulov was winning over fans with a brilliant first impression, it was a duo comprised of up-and-coming defensemen who combined to steal the show.
With plenty of time to cook up some chemistry since first going pro together in the AHL during the 2012-13 season, Nathan Beaulieu and Greg Pateryn put forth a promising effort on Tuesday.
"We've been playing together for five years now, off and on obviously. We spent some time in Hamilton together, and I think we have some good chemistry," explained Pateryn, who was named the night's second star following a three-point, two-hit outing that he ended a +2. "He knows where I am, I know where he is, and he communicates and skates well. He puts the puck on my tape all the time, so when you have a partner like that and your own game is on, then it's fun to play."Video: Highlights: Canadiens 5, Capitals 2
Another quality Beaulieu and Pateryn share is a constantly climbing 'games played' column on their stats sheets year-over-year.
Following career-best 64- and 38-game campaigns in 2015-16, respectively, is this the season both enjoy a breakout year?
"I'm being given opportunities, and it's my time to seize them. The last couple of years I knew I had to work in my own end of the ice and stay patient -- I knew I was going to get my turn," added Beaulieu, whose one-goal, three-assist, and four-hit night earned him first star honors opposite the Caps. "Throughout a career you don't necessarily jump right in and make an instant impact, it's a process. You don't want to fall back -- you want to slowly rise to the top. I feel like this year there's an opportunity to be more open in the offensive zone, and I feel like I'm the right guy for the job. Now it's my job to prove it."
The early signs suggest that head coach Michel Therrien has taken note.
"When there's an opportunity, we want our defensemen -- guys like Nathan [and Greg] -- to go out and get them. They certainly did that tonight, which is something that comes with experience and confidence," underlined the Habs bench boss. "They were a good pairing. They were sharp, they played with a lot of confidence, and they managed the puck really well. They defended really well, and that was a good first game for them. In Pateryn's case, he learned a lot last year, and we hope he continues to progress."
Pateryn, who saw additional ice time once the Canadiens' back end caught the injury bug a season ago, hopes to prove he's likewise up to the task.
"You can look at tonight as only one game, or you can look at it as a step forward in the right direction," underlined the 26-year-old. "I do think it's a step forward in the right direction for me, and I think I made a statement tonight."