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Jets' Montoya stands tall against old team

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Winnipeg Jets goalie Al Montoya kicks the puck away from the goal as Keaton Ellerby defends against the New York Islanders in the second period

KATHY KMONICEK Enlarge Image

Winnipeg Jets goalie Al Montoya kicks the puck away from the goal as Keaton Ellerby defends against the New York Islanders in the second period

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The raised arms at the final buzzer said it all -- Al Montoya was more than just a little happy for a victory.

The Chicago native who spent two years playing for the New York Islanders went in against his former team Wednesday night and pulled out a 3-2 victory for his Winnipeg Jets.

Montoya's 3-2-1 on the season, and his other numbers like just fine, a .916 save percentage and a 2.42 goals against average.

"I waited for that buzzer all night," Montoya said after making 28 saves. "That's an exciting (night). There's a lot of adrenaline going into that game, playing against my old teammates.

"It was a great game. I was thankful for the opportunity to come in here and battle for my team and they did a heck of a job."

Montoya made no secret of how much he relished the start.

"I love it," he said. "This is great. This is the team that gave me a chance here. Those are my old friends over there. They're a great transition team but it's something very special to come back in this building and get a win."

The Jets continue to be pleased with the work of their backup goalie.

"He made some big stops for a good portion of the game," said his coach, Claude Noel. "Looked comfortable and poised. I was happy with Al and that's what Al has given us."

Included in his night were several alert saves, a couple of timely plays by his own defencemen getting pucks away from the goal line and friendly goalposts on at least two occasions. Does he sweet talk his posts?

"What happened there?" said Montoya with a grin, feigning not knowing what the question was about.

Defenceman Dustin Byfuglien was responsible for bailing out his goalie twice, and Montoya made what he agreed was another fortunate save on Islanders' sniper Tomas Vanek from close range.

"I didn't even see him shoot it," Montoya said. "All I did was feel it. It hit me in the back of the leg. I'll take that because nine out of 10 times that's going in."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 28, 2013 D2

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