Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Can't blame Montoya

Unspectacular in net, but solid on the whole

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OTTAWA -- He's been their main man in goal for a week but finally something went wrong for Winnipeg Jets goalie Al Montoya.

The 28-year-old understudy to No. 1 Ondrej Pavelec had won three games in a row coming into Canadian Tire Centre on Thursday night but wasn't quite good enough to stop the Ottawa Senators, who prevailed 4-3.

Montoya's numbers were getting towards impressive, 8-2-1 entering the game with a goals-against average of 1.85 and a .934 save percentage.

'I thought he was OK. I can't say Al was the reason we lost the game'

-- Jets head coach Claude Noel

They took a step back on Thursday, along with the Jets, to .500 again this season at 19-19-5.

"I think Al was OK with the game," said Jets coach Claude Noel. "I don't know that you could fault him on any of the plays. The third goal was a faceoff that was pretty much a seeing-eye shot, really.

"The other one (the eventual game-winner by Clarke MacArthur) was a breakdown around the net. Maybe you would have liked a save there but it's hard to blame him, the guy was by himself really.

"I thought he was OK. I can't say Al was the reason we lost the game."

Montoya did not see Marc Methot's point shot at 6:42 of the third period, nor Zack Smith's redirection of same that put the home team ahead 3-2.

He could hardly be blamed for MacArthur being left all alone near the net after Jets defenceman Keaton Ellerby was outfought for position and puck by Ottawa's Bobby Ryan as he tried to move away from Montoya and up the ice.

But that second goal, a big, fat rebound into the slot that bounced past Jets defenceman Jacob Trouba was one he did not like. It went to Milan Michalek, who roofed it in the first period's final minute.

"The second one, they threw it off the wall and it kind of bounced off me weird and ended up in the slot," said Montoya, who faced 29 shots. "I wish I maybe would have stayed with it better. I felt I made some stops that gave the team a little momentum but other than that, I wasn't able to make the one I needed."

He said the Jets just couldn't seem to get a handle on this game.

"I thought it was a weird game," Montoya said. "But we were in it all the way. A couple of tough bounces here and there. We just weren't able to pull this one off.

"It was there for the taking and we kind of gave it away. The games are so close, a mistake here, a mistake there, even after we gave up that third one, we were still in it. We came back and scored, but that fourth one's a backbreaker and it can't happen. We've got to be better."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 3, 2014 C3

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