Canadian goalkeeper Antti Niemi defends the net in the third period of the encounter with the Florida Panthers at BB & T Center on Friday, December 28, 2018, in Sunrise, Florida.
SUNRISE – No Carey Price?
The Canadiens do not have their No. 1 goalkeeper for the three-game trip, which opened Friday night against the Florida Panthers and possibly longer.
But the backup copy of Antti Niemi showed solid performance with 23 rescues, as the Canadiens beat the Panthers in a game in which they started out strong and finished stronger.
“Nemo looked a bit rusty in the first period, but we did not help him because they had good chances to win from the slot,” said coach Claude Julien. "He played very well in the second and third periods."
Niemi said he would have no trouble getting into the game.
“In the morning I had a good practice, and it helped me,” he said.
He was supposed to be at his best in the third period, when the Panthers gave a push after lagging 4-2. Florida closed the gap with a powerful goal Keith Yeandle, but Niemi stopped 10 other shots.
“There were a lot of bodies in front of the net, and the puck was bouncing, but I was just trying to keep track of the puck,” Niemi said.
"Both teams played with great despair," said Julien. "They tried to get closer to the playoffs, and we tried to open a gap for them."
Given that Price and reserve player Michael McNiven have zero experience in the NHL, Niemi expects to play all three games on this trip, which means that on Saturday evening there will be a difficult task against Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL
Niemi said he was ready for the load.
“I don't think parallel games should be a problem,” he said. “I think that more teams go with the same goalkeeper in matches one by one, if the goalkeeper played well the first night. I will try to relax a bit and will be ready.
“We had a good start that we were looking for, and then we had some lull, but we came back in the third period,” said Brendan Gallagher.
The turning point was the second goal of Thomas Tatarin for the night scored in the power game.
“I think strength is getting better,” said Tatar. “When we scored this goal, it was huge. We begin to gain our confidence. We work with (assistant coach Kirk Muller) and see where we did something wrong. I think our breakthroughs were much better, and we have more chances, more chances. ”
Tatarsky is on the rise, with two gears in a victory in Las Vegas on December 22 and two goals in this game.
“Canadiens” coped well with Florida’s main attack threats, Jonathan Huberdo and Alexander Barkov. Huberdo could not break through on goal. He had three shots blocked, and the other three were out of target. Barkov had one shot on goal.
“This is what we talked about before the game,” said Julien. "It's a little harder to fit when you're on the road, but we had guys who came up and did their job."
The "Panther" is one of the worst defensive records in the NHL, and in the first minutes it became clear that the "Canadiens" were able to take advantage of the weakness of Florida. Montreal scored twice in the first three minutes, but the offensive then stopped.
The Canadiens spent most of their morning skate working on a power game, and this gave some tangible results. The Canadiens, who have the worst power game record in the NHL, went 1 to 3, although their first power game was not very good. when Jesperi Kotkaniemi hit the post.