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Montoya Starts Isles Home Opener

by Dyan LeBourdais / New York Islanders
With three goaltenders competing for one spot, the starting goaltender for tonight’s Islanders Home Opener at Nassau Coliseum has been a hot topic of conversation. Not until this morning did Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano announce his decision to start goaltender Al Montoya.

Al Montoya warms up prior to the game against the Boston Bruins at the Webster Bank Arena on October 1, 2011. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Capuano wasn’t overly specific when he talked about his decision. When addressing the media, Capuano said, “We’re going with our gut feeling.”

After a number of injuries to the goaltending position last season, the Islanders acquired Montoya in a trade with the Phoenix Coyotes on Feb. 9. From that point on, Montoya played in 20 games for the Islanders and led the team to nine wins, five losses and five overtime losses.

Montoya is grateful for the opportunity the Islanders gave him. After spending the majority of his professional career in the American Hockey League, with just five NHL games for the Coyotes in 2008-09, Montoya held a .921 save percentage and 2.39 goals against average last season.

“I have to thank the guys here in this organization for giving me the opportunity and believing in me,” Montoya said, who signed a one-year extension Mar. 29. “I feel like I was stuck in place for a long time and you never know who’s watching. I got my chance last year and I’m going to try to do my best with it this year.”

Earning the nod on Opening Night is a feat he was hoping to achieve.

“I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” Montoya said. “We have great goalies here, but I got the nod tonight, so I’m just going to go and run with it. I’ve prepared as best as I could for tonight and this summer, so I’m looking forward to it.”

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