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Montreal Canadiens recall Charlie Lindgren

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Antti Niemi’s concerning performance against San Jose leads to the Canadiens making a change.

NHL: New York Islanders at Montreal Canadiens Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

The Montreal Canadiens have recalled goaltender Charlie Lindgren from the American Hockey League’s Laval Rocket.

The move comes after the concerning performance by Antti Niemi on Thursday night against the San Jose Sharks where he gave up two terrible goals in the first period that dug a deep hole for the Habs that they could not climb out of despite a net advantage over the Sharks all game.

Niemi’s play, in general, has been of great concern of late, losing three straight starts since his remarkable 52-save performance against the Florida Panthers on January 15th. His save percentage during that stretch of three games is an attrocious 0.851.

Up until the Sharks game, it was Carey Price who shouldered the entire burden, starting 15 consecutive games. In fact, public perception was so skeptical of Niemi that many thought General Manager Marc Bergevin would trade for a backup goaltender at the trade deadline. The start against the Sharks was the first since the deadline, and Niemi did very little to prove that Bergevin’s trust in him was warranted.

Lindgren has also not had a brilliant season, struggling with injuries that cost him six weeks of the season with the Laval Rocket. In his 13 starts since coming back from injury, Lindgren has a save percentage of 0.876 and a goals against average of 3.42, giving up two or less goals only three times in that stretch.

Both Lindgren and Niemi have their work cut out for them to earn the coaching staff’s trust, and should be competing at practice for what will likely amount to one last start destined for the backup to Price.

In a corresponding move, the Laval Rocket re-assigned Connor LaCouvee from the ECHL Maine Mariners to the AHL. He will share the workload with Michael McNiven. LaCouvee rose to the occasion earlier this season when the Rocket signed him to a PTO during Lindgren’s injury. In that time he beat out Etienne Marcoux for the backup job by posting a 0.927 save percentage and a 1.98 goals against average.