For a month, Nathan Beaulieu embraced the "black ace" role.
He was out of sight, and out of mind for Habs fans — reduced to practicing after the big club for four weeks after the Hamilton Bulldogs missed the American Hockey League playoffs.
But as the Montreal Canadiens made their way into the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Beaulieu was waiting in the wings as a "black ace," preparing for a chance to play his first National Hockey League playoff game, waiting for an injury or a scratch.
With Douglas Murray left out of the lineup, Beaulieu gave Habs fans a taste of what the former first-round pick from 2011 can do in a crucial moment.
He air-mailed a pass to Max Pacioretty, who beat Boston's Tuuka Rask between the legs, putting the Montreal Canadiens up 2-0 in the second period of Monday's night's must-win against the Bruins.
The bleu blanc et rouge went on to shutout the Bruins 4-0. The pass was Beaulieu's first playoff point, cause for celebration at a steakhouse with his father, Jacques, after the game.
"It was a great experience," the senior Beaulieu said Tuesday morning. "He's been a black ace for a long time and got the call. It's very exciting, the city is buzzing and the rink was buzzing and shaking. My ears are ringing after the game, that's for sure."
Jacques Beaulieu: 'I thought he played a pretty good hockey game'
"For him to play his first playoff game and it's an elimination game against an original six team. It was really exciting, he said. "It's a thrill and it's exciting for him because you know, he's worked hard. He was excited and he was ready and I thought he played a pretty good hockey game for Montreal last night
The Stathroy, Ont. native made the drive to Montreal Tuesday to watch his son play as the Habs hoped to take Game 6 to stave off elimination.
The elder Beaulieu will be making the drive to Boston for Game 7 to see if his son play another big game.
As a father, he described the experience as a "thrill." But when asked about the pass that sprung Pacioretty for first goal of the series, Jacques answered like a coach.
"It wasn't a tape to tape pass, but you know one of Nathan's pretty good attributes is he has vision and he has hockey sense," said Beaulieu. "He saw Pacioretty cut through the middle and he was just making an area pass."
In the post game interview, the younger Beaulieu told reporters the pass, which bounced around before reaching Pacioretty, received a "member's bounce."
It was a big play at a crucial time for Beaulieu, who spent 17 games up with the Habs during the regular season where he recorded two assists and a plus-6 rating.
With the Bulldogs, the 6-foot-1 puck-moving defenceman had seven goals and 27 points in 57 games.