«We have to play three periods like we did in the first period the other night,» coach Claude Julien said.
WINNIPEG — With four games remaining in the regular season and a playoff spot on the line, coach Claude Julien has decided to juggle his lines.
Rookie Jesperi Kotkaniemi is out for Saturday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets (7 p.m., SN360, SNE City, TVA Sports, TSN-690 Radio) and Matthew Peca is in. Jordan Weal will take Kotkaniemi’s spot on the third line between Jonathan Drouin and Joel Armia, while Peca will be on the fourth line with centre Nate Thompson and Nicolas Deslauriers.
“I’m trying to give our team the best chance of winning,” Julien said during an optional morning skate at MTS Centre. “It’s obvious that KK is feeling fatigue. He’s played a lot of hockey and it was time to give him some rest.”
It’s the third time this season that Kotkaniemi has not dressed for a game.
Peca has played 38 games this season and he has three goals and seven assists. He hasn’t played since Feb. 25 against New Jersey.
“It’s frustrating when you’re not playing but the staff here does a good job of making sure that you stay ready,” said Peca. “You never know when there’s going to be an injury,”
There was just such an occasion earlier this week when Paul Byron suffered a concussion in a fight with Florida’s Mackenzie Weegar but Byron’s spot went to Deslauriers for Thursday’s game in Columbus.
The Canadiens played a strong first period in Columbus but then faded and lost 6-2.
“We have to play our game; we have to play three periods like we did in the first period the other night,” said Julien. “Hopefully, our guys have wings and we use our speed tonight.”
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