MONTREAL — Just before Jimmy Vesey’s first taste of the NHL postseason, the rookie from Harvard knew the evening would be memorable.
“When they [the Canadiens] were skating out right before the anthems, the building was really loud, and that’s something I’ll remember forever — my first playoff game, in Montreal,” he said Thursday. “After that, I thought I settled in well and had some chances. It was an awesome experience.”
Vesey, who scored 16 goals in 80 games after being courted by numerous suitors last summer as the top college free agent, said he “didn’t have too many jitters. On our line’s first shift, we had a forecheck and I made a play to Nasher [Rick Nash] in front. That gave me confidence going forward.”
The left wing, who played only 11:49 in the 2-0 win, learned that the physical play was “up a notch,” as he believed it would be. “You’ve got to be aware that when you make a play, even a couple seconds after you get rid of the puck, someone’s going to finish their check on you,” he said. “And you’ve got to take it to them as well.”
Said coach Alain Vigneault, “He had a couple big battles in the third, one where he was able to keep the puck in the offensive zone, so for the most part, as a young player coming into this environment, he did well.”
Having the Game 1 minutes will help “big-time” in Game 2 Friday night, Vesey said. “Especially with getting the win and everybody feeling good about themselves now.”
No sour grapes
Nash, who was speared in the stomach by Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov with 25 seconds to play, didn’t blast the officials for not giving Markov more than a 10-minute misconduct. “It’s never fun taking one of those, but it’s part of hockey,’’ he said. “It’s happened before; not in front of the referees [though]. It’s playoff hockey, emotions are high, you’re in a battle. Everything happened so fast. It’s the end of the game. I don’t know if all four [officials] got a good angle, but on the replay, everyone saw it. It’s up to the league, the referees, to make that decision.”
Lindberg gets assist
In a scoring change, Oscar Lindberg was awarded a secondary assist on Michael Grabner’s empty-netter in Game 1 . . . Defenseman Steven Kampfer has signed a two-year, two-way contract extension worth $650,000 per season on the NHL level. Kampfer, 28, played 43 games in Hartford (4-15-19) and 10 with the Rangers (1-1-2) this season.