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Hab youngsters' milestones overshadow strong defensive effort

 Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher looks to pass the puck next to Wild goalie Alex Stalock Thursday night. Gallagher scored his third goal of the year in the third period.
Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher looks to pass the puck next to Wild goalie Alex Stalock Thursday night. Gallagher scored his third goal of the year in the third period.

On any other night, Nick Suzuki’s first NHL goal would have been the highlight, but the rookie had to take a back seat to Victor Mete’s first NHL goal Thursday in the Canadiens’ 4-0 win over the Minnesota Wild.

“It seems like it’s been on my mind for a while and it’s good to get it out of the way,” Suzuki said.

But Suzuki noted that he wasn’t upset that Mete stole some of his thunder when he notched his first goal in his 127th game.

“He’s been at it for a long time and I’m just getting started,” said Suzuki, who was playing his seventh game. “We’re all happy for (Mete). When I saw he scored, I was going nuts. I was excited and I hope we can both score some more goals.”

Mete was mobbed by his teammates after the goal and the crowd gave him a loud ovation.

“The fans knew what happened, they’re very knowledgeable and they were glad they were here to see his first goal,” coach Claude Julien said.

Mete was joining the rush up the middle of the ice when he took a pass from Nick Cousins, who had won a battle for a loose puck behind the net.

“I called for it and I was hanging around and he won the battle and found me,” Mete said.

The 21-year-old defenceman said he tried not to let the goal drought weigh on him.

“I go into every game the exact same way,” Mete said. “I just focus on playing good, playing hard and when an opportunity comes like that and I can pounce on it, I will. But if I don’t get those chances, I still have to play solid.”

Suzuki started the sequence that led to his goal with a good entry pass.

“I was trying to get it deep for (Max Domi) because he was flying in and he made a great play to get the puck on the net,” Suzuki said. “That stretched their box out and when (Jeff Petry) shot it, I was trying to go hard to the net and the puck went right to me. I got a good bounce.”

Tomas Tatar, who was acquired in the same trade that brought Suzuki to Montreal in return for Max Pacioretty, almost spoiled the rookie’s moment.

“He was going to the net and he said he almost tipped it,” Suzuki said.

There are high expectations for Suzuki, who was drafted in the first round by the Vegas Golden Knights. Suzuki was sent back to junior before the final cuts last season, but he put up huge numbers in the OHL and beat out Ryan Poehling for one of the final spots on the opening-night roster.

He started the season as the right winger on the No. 2 line with Domi at centre, but most recently has played on the fourth line with Nate Thompson while also earning time on the power play. He had one assist in the first six games.

The goal-scoring heroics of the two youngsters overshadowed a solid defensive effort from the Canadiens, who killed off five penalties and held the Wild to 17 shots.

Mete, Suzuki and Brendan Gallagher, who turned a strong forechecking effort into a third-period goal, were the three stars.

Carey Price posted his 45th career shutout and was asked if he could remember the last time he had a shutout and wasn’t one of the three stars.

“I can’t remember the last time I had a shutout,” deadpanned Price.

For the record, it was March 21 against the Islanders.

phickey@postmedia.com

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