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Counting on Kotkaniemi
Jesperi Kotkaniemi logged 19:32 of ice time in Game 3, including 3:05 on the power play, the most of any Canadiens forward. The 20-year-old centre, now playing on a line with Max Domi and Jonathan Drouin, leads the Canadiens with four goals in the postseason and hit two posts in Game 3.
“Well, you know what, he’s hot,” Muller said after the game when asked about Kotkaniemi’s ice time. “He’s hot and we needed a goal. Every game’s different. You could have the lead, you could be chasing it. You just got to make those decisions as the game goes on. He had some great opportunities again tonight and, like I said, he’s got the hot stick. He’s creating opportunities. Every night something will be different. We just got to go with who’s going and who’s not. It’s playoff hockey and you just got to make those changes and adjustments every game.”
Kotkaniemi and 21-year-old Nick Suzuki are starting to make it look like the Canadiens could have a bright future at the centre position, along with 27-year-old Phillip Danault and 24-year-old Jake Evans.
“They’re two young players with bright futures,” the Flyers’ Sean Couturier, one of the best two-way centre in the NHL, said when asked about Kotkaniemi and Suzuki. “They’re having an impact on these playoffs. They’re making the most of their opportunities. We got to respect them and not take them lightly. Play them hard and make it tough on them. Just try to keep them away from running their offence.”