It’s supposed to be a tough gig, being a little-used back-up goalie in the National Hockey League.
A guy takes a pile of shots in the pre-game warmup and then dons a ball hat before playing doorman for his teammates while they come off the ice all night.
But Al Montoya is good with all that. And the veteran netminder also has a very keen understanding of his role as Ondrej Pavelec’s back-up and occasional starter for the Winnipeg Jets.
Case in point: Sunday night’s performance by Montoya in a 3-0 win over the New Jersey Devils. It was just his sixth start as a Jet, but his second career shutout.
"It feels great," said Montoya. "Knowing what we were coming into this game with, a couple losses, it’s not good. So, to come out here and get the win and feel good the way I was skating and the team was communicating and letting me see the puck... it feels good."
Montoya kicked out 24 shots in the win and was particularly sharp in a stretch of 72 seconds when the Devils were enjoying a two-man advantage. All told, the Jets killed off five Devils’ power-plays and Montoya was key in all of them.
As for this possibly meaning more work for Montoya, he just shrugged his shoulders.
"They know what I’m capable of," said Montoya. "Pavs is a fantastic goalie. For me to come in here and give him a night off, it’s not just about that. It’s about giving this team a chance to win as well. I know what I can do. I wanted to play well. I wanted to show what I can do and I think I did that.
"I know what this league’s like. There’s a lot of games. I’ve been there before. For me, it’s not worrying about the rest, it’s just playing hockey whenever I’m called upon. This is the best league in the world and I’m here to give this team a chance when I get the chance."