Forward lines and defense pairings
Tatar – Danault – Gallagher
Drouin – Domi – Hudon
Lehkonen – Kotkaniemi – Armia
Deslauriers – Peca – Shaw
Benn – Petry
Reilly – Juulsen
Ouellet – Mete
Weber, Schlemko, Plekanec, Byron
More often than not, we have been treated to a Montreal squad who has come out of the blocks strong. Not tonight. The Canadiens didn’t have much going for them in the first period.
Defensive coverage was weak and the goaltending was worse.
Antti Niemi came into the game with a 3.24 goals against average and a .898 save percentage. Those are numbers that do not engender confidence in the Habs backup. And Niemi’s shaky performance in the first period did nothing to change any minds.
But something happened in the shootout. Niemi made three saves. Two other Islanders shooters missed the net. And fellow Finn, Joel Armia played the role of hero by scoring the game-deciding goal.
Niemi’s struggles, which started in the pre-season, have been masked by strong performances in the shootout. He has not allowed a goal while facing eight shooters, adding two shootout wins to his record. Think of Niemi as the David Desharnais of goaltenders.
Suomi was well-represented on this night as Artturi Lehkonen scored midway through the third period to tie the game facilitating the opportunity for the shootout win.
▲ Artturi Lehkonen, Max Domi, Joel Armia, Noah Juulsen
▼ Jeff Petry, Jordie Benn, Antti Niemi, Nicolas Deslauriers, Matthew Peca, Charles Hudon, Andrew Shaw