Montreal Canadiens goaltender Al Montoya takes a breather against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Nov. 4, 2016 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus shut out Montreal 10-0.
The league-leading Montreal Canadiens suffered the worst loss of the 2016-17 season the last time they started their second-string goaltender.
For the first time since giving up 10 goals in a single NHL game, Al Montoya will stand between the pipes again.
The Montreal Canadiens (13-1-1) confirmed they are turning to their back-up goaltender Saturday night when they visit the Chicago Blackhawks (10-3-2). The decision puts Montoya, 31, back in the crease for the first time since the Columbus Blue Jackets hit double digits on the scoreboard on 40 shots in a 10-0 decision last Friday.
It was the league-leading Canadiens’ first regulation loss of the season and remains as such. Without question, the debacle in Ohio was the low point of a record-tying first 15 games. Montoya, a free agent signing in the off-season, wore the goat horns as coach Michel Therrien opted not to turn to stalwart Carey Price, who started the next night against Philadelphia.
Instead, Montoya earned two franchise dubious distinctions. He became the first Canadiens netminder to surrender 10 goals in a game since Andre Racicot on Dec. 13, 1992 and the first to allow eight goals through two periods since Patrick Roy on Dec. 5, 1995. Every Canadiens fan knows what happened after Roy was finally pulled.
As a result, Montoya saw his numbers take a major hit. Before the shellacking, he’d posted a 1.47 goals-against average and .955 save percentage in four starts. He’s now at very average totals of 3.15 and .908, the save percentage almost mirroring his .909 career mark.
It’s safe to say Montoya will improve on his last start. It’s more of a question of if he’ll help the Canadiens extend their winning streak to five games.