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Montoya gung-ho for big game against Blues

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The Dallas Stars Alex Chiasson (12) scores on Winnipeg Jets goaltender Al Montoya in the first period.

TREVOR HAGAN / THE CANADIAN PRESS Enlarge Image

The Dallas Stars Alex Chiasson (12) scores on Winnipeg Jets goaltender Al Montoya in the first period.

SUNDAY night was the biggest game of the year and Al Montoya won it. Now tonight's game becomes the biggest and Montoya will once again be in the net.

Montoya told the media immediately after Sunday's 7-2 win over the Dallas Stars he'd like the net again in St. Louis against the Blues.

"We can probably help him with that," said Jets coach Paul Maurice, in his post-game media address. "We probably have a spot for him (Monday) night."

Montoya and the Jets fell behind 2-1 in the first period Sunday and it was almost a two-goal lead when Eric Cole broke in alone but was turned aside by the career backup.

With Jets No. 1 netminder Ondrej Pavelec injured and unavailable for at least one more game, Montoya is the man.

"That's what they pay me for. To be ready in these situations and to go out and battle," said Montoya. "I'm going to enjoy this for a bit and then start getting ready for St. Louis. They're a top team in this league and I'll have to be ready and sharp. My team needs me to do my part and I'm going to enjoy this opportunity and try to be my best."

Montoya stopped 25 of 27 shots while at the other end veteran Tim Thomas was pulled after allowing four goals on 17 shots. Christopher Nilstorp came on in relief and allowed three goals on 17 shots.

Jets veteran Olli Jokinen said his team wasn't surprised by Montoya's performance.

"He's been good for us all year. That's a hard job. Backup goalie and the enforcers, those are the hardest jobs in the NHL," said Jokinen. "Al works hard every day and helps us shooters. He goes in sometimes when he has little warning and still plays great. He's been a big part of this team. The guys want to win for him."

Montoya was energized by the win.

"This is what we expected. We expected to win. The guys were great in front of me. They were buzzing," he said. "We'll have to be the same team in St. Louis. We'll get on the plane and start thinking about the next challenge. These games are full of pressure and mean so much. They're so fun to play."

Jokinen was asked if the team was OK with the prospect of going into St. Louis with so much on the line and Montoya in net.

"Absolutely," he said. "We have full confidence in Al. We can win with him in net."

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @garylawless

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 17, 2014 C3

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