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Sam Montembeault Lays Claim to No. 1 Job

Sam Montembeault Montreal Canadiens

It’s not often you get pulled after giving up three goals on six shots and still end up having the best night compared to the goalie that relieved you. However, that’s exactly the situation Montreal Canadiens netminder Samuel Montembeault found himself in, after he re-relieved teammate Jake Allen March 16 against the Florida Panthers, as the Habs lost 9-5. As much as humanly possible under those circumstances, Montembeault came out, looking like a winner, at least with regard to the No. 1 spot on the roster.

Montreal Canadiens goalie Samuel Montembeault – (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Canadiens infamously gave up seven goals in the first period, with Allen giving up four of them in relief. He’d end up giving up two more before head coach Martin St. Louis mercifully pulled him in the second. By the end of the night, Montembeault had earned a semi-respectable .875 save percentage (SV%), at least relatively speaking. Compared to the .500 he initially had when everyone thought his night was first done, it’s obviously a step up, especially seeing as he didn’t allow a goal the rest of the way, saving 21 of 24 total shots.

Montembeault Redeems Himself at Allen’s Expense

To be clear, everyone on the Canadiens had a bad night. When you give up nine goals, you’re not exactly celebrating. The team scoring the nine goals probably isn’t all that much either, just to put it in perspective. However, Montembeault had a better night than most, because he was able to play out his very own redemption arc.

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Similar stories usually take days to fully get fleshed out, if not weeks or months. Montembeault’s took a matter of hours, even if felt like much longer for everyone watching. It probably felt even longer for Allen, who obviously had anticipated having the night off, but all signs pointed to that becoming the norm heading into the game, anyway.

In spite of co-winning the March Molson Cup (Mike Matheson) as the team’s most valuable player, Allen has been outplayed over large stretches by Montembeault. Allen also got pulled in favor of Montembeault in his last start against the Colorado Avalanche on March 13, after he allowed six goals on 15 shots. Montembeault played decently in relief, allowing “just” two goals on 17 shots, with the two markers coming on the power play.

Jake Allen Montreal Canadiens
Jake Allen, Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)

Montembeault’s performance was good enough to earn him the start against the…

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