The Canadian lost 2-1 to the Devils in its first preseason game

Alexis Belanger-Champagne, The Canadian Press

MONTREAL — An 18-year-old forward has continued to command attention at the Montreal Canadiens since rookie camp, and he was selected with the first pick of the second round in the last draft.

Owen Beck continued to look good in the Canadiens’ first preseason game, even though the Montreal squad lost 2-1 to the New Jersey Devils on Monday night at the Bell Centre.

Beck found himself in the center of Cole Caufield and Mike Hoffman. He also evolved on the first wave of power play.

The Ontario center notably hit the post with full force in the third period. He also shone in the face-off circle, with an efficiency of 59%.

“He plays in a very mature way. He doesn’t look like an 18-year-old, said Canadiens head coach Martin St-Louis. He was offered an opportunity tonight between Cole and ‘Hoff’ since ‘Suzy’ (Nick Suzuki) is injured, and he took advantage of it.

Beck admitted he needed some time to get used to the pace of play on Monday. He noted that his appearance in the Reds vs. Whites game on Sunday helped him.

He also recalled that Ryan O’Reilly had carved out a position with the Colorado Avalanche at the age of 18 after being selected 33rd overall, the same as him.

« I don’t think it’s impossible, but of course it will be quite a challenge, » said Beck, when asked if he believed in his chances of starting the season with the Canadiens.

He will certainly have other opportunities to assert himself by the end of the camp. And he believes he can continue to progress from game to game.

« I think my perception of the game will slow down a bit and I’ll be less worried about making mistakes, » Beck said of what his first experience against NHL veterans would bring him. I’ll be more in the moment, ready to play. »

The two players selected by the Canadian before Beck, Juraj Slafkovsky, in the first row, and Filip Mesar, in the 26th level, had their best moments at the end of the game. They each fired a threatening shot as the Canadian moved in with an extra forward. They were, however, unable to create a tie.

“I won a few pucks and I lost a few pucks, summed up Slafkovsky, who was playing his first game in the amphitheater where he was drafted first overall on July 7. I know myself and I know that I can do better, that I can skate better and shoot more.

On defense, Kaiden Guhle and Jordan Harris continued to earn points. Veteran Mike Matheson was employed in all situations and played with aplomb.

Caufield scored on the power play in the first period.

In front of the Canadian net, Jake Allen was perfect against 18 shots in a period and a half. Cayden Primeau took over and conceded two goals on 13 shots.

In the Devils’ camp, Jesper Boqvist stood out thanks to some good offensive momentum, just like Jesper Bratt. Tomas Tatar hit the target on the power play in the second period, while Graeme Clarke took advantage of a lucky jump to break the tie with 5:57 left in the third period.

Mackenzie Blackwood and Nico Daws shared the work in goal. Blackwood allowed one goal on 16 shots, while Daws stopped five shots.

Striker Nico Hischier left the game as a preventive measure in the second period due to cramps.

The Canadiens are off on Tuesday. The players will be back at work on Wednesday when they play an exhibition game against the Maple Leafs in Toronto.

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