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Eyes on the Price: Al Montoya Holds the Fort

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Al Montoya came up big when needed as the Habs notched another overtime win.

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at New Jersey Devils Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Livin’ on a prayer...

Al Montoya and the Canadiens survived a Monday night scare in New Jersey to extend their lead in the Atlantic Division, pulling off a 4-3 overtime win against the Devils in Newark after entering the 3rd period trailing 1-0.

The Habs scored 3 goals in the 3rd, but trailed 3-1 before Max Pacioretty hitched up his Captain pants and netted two consecutive tallies. Pacioretty’s tying goal eluded Devils’ goalie Cory Schneider with just under a minute remaining in regulation, and Alex Galchenyuk scored the overtime game winner on a well-executed 4-on-3 power play with 2:06 remaining in the extra period.

Montoya again proved himself to be an ideal backup to Carey Price. Trailing 3-2 with under three minutes remaining in regulation, Mike Camallieri (13) springs Stefan Noesen (23) free up the middle, but Noesen is stymied by Montoya’s patience and positioning.

Montoya maintains the Habs’ chance to complete the comeback victory with a strong positional play on a low angle drive by the Devils’ John Moore (2), and an aggressive save against Kyle Palmieri (21) during the same overtime possession.

On the first save, Montoya takes Moore’s shot off the upper chest, just below his chin, and the rebound drops in front of him.

After a possession scramble, Adam Henrique collects the puck in the slot for the Devils.

He passes to Moore at the left point, who carries the puck a few strides forward.

Moore sends a cross-ice pass to Palmieri, who is free at the right face-off circle.

Montoya tracks the puck movement well, and his reaction to the cross-ice pass is excellent. He performs a strong T-push from right to left.

He remains on his skates as he sets his angle to Palmieri’s threat, and establishes his depth with his heels on the crease. Montoya’s in good shape as Palmieri releases his snapshot.

It’s overtime, though, and Montoya isn’t satisfied with simply establishing his position. He’s seen his team score 3 goals in the third period, and his Captain tie the game with under a minute to go. He has no intention of letting this game get away in overtime. He aggressively pushes forward into Palmieri’s shot path as he drops into his butterfly. He maintains the forward lean of his shoulders, showing that he’s totally under control as he challenges.

Montoya makes the save, and is able to cover the puck.

Shortly after this sequence, Nathan Beaulieu draws a hooking penalty. The Habs go on a power play, and Galchenyuk buries a shot from the right point for the win.

This is excellent situational goaltending from Montoya. His first save denies a full-ice speed rush. His second ensures that a turnover by his teammates doesn't result in a game-winning goal by the Devils, and gives them the opportunity to pull off an emotional, important comeback win.

Claude Julien had to be impressed with his newly-inherited backup goaltender, just as Habs fans have been all season. Al Montoya has game, and he has his teammates’ backs.