Canadiens Game Day: Antti Niemi gets start against Avalanche in Denver

Canadiens Game Day: Antti Niemi gets start against Avalanche in Denver

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Antti Niemi makes a save against the Anaheim Ducks in Montreal on Feb. 3, 2018.

Graham Hughes / THE CANADIAN PRESS

DENVER — Antti Niemi, who officially became a lame-duck goaltender after Charlie Lindgren signed a contract extension on Tuesday, will get the start Wednesday night when the Canadiens play the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center (9:30 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio).  

Canadiens coach Claude Julien said he looked at his goalies’ records before handing out the assignments for the game here and Thursday night’s game against the Arizona Coyotes. Niemi, who has played a good part of his career in the Western Conference, has a 9-3-3 record against the Avalanche. Carey Price is 5-3-1 against Colorado, but it’s a no-brainer to match him against the Coyotes. Price is 9-0 with a 1.78 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage.

The Avalanche will counter with Semyon Varlamov, who has a 5-0-1 career mark against Montreal.

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Niemi, who can become an unrestricted free agent in July, doesn’t figure in the Canadiens’ future and Lindgren will assume the backup role next season after signing a three-year extension. It’s a one-way deal with an annual cap hit of $750,000. 

Julien said he was pleased to learn of the Lindgren signing. 

“He’s played well when he’s been called up,” said Julien. “I saw him at the end of last year and got to see him again this year when Price got hurt. He played well. I like his competitiveness. He has a good attitude, he has good size. He has everything a good goaltender needs to play in this league and I’m glad we were able to keep him in the organization. I haven’t seen him all the time in Laval and, like everyone, he has his ups and downs. But overall, he’s a young goaltender who’ll be in the NHL at some point.”

There are no other lineup changes, which means that Phillip Danault’s return to the lineup is on hold for at least one more day. 

phickey@postmedia.com

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