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Sabres prepare for unfamiliar face in Canadiens goalie Antti Niemi

Jason Pominville had no idea which goalie he and the Buffalo Sabres would face until around 11 a.m. Thursday, when a reporter informed him that Antti Niemi was announced Wednesday as Montreal’s starter.

“I didn’t even know!” the Sabres' veteran right wing said Thursday at KeyBank Center. “I’m sure we’ll talk about this in our meetings. (Carey) Price plays the puck pretty well and I’m not really sure how he plays it, but I know he’s been playing really well since he’s been with Montreal. It doesn’t change much for us, but I’m sure it’s something we talk about before the game.”

Niemi will start in place of Price, who gets the night off. Price earned his 289th win Tuesday against Calgary, tying Patrick Roy for second all-time among Canadiens goalies for wins. Jacques Plante leads the Canadiens all-time in wins (314).

Niemi is 2-0 in two games with the Canadiens, with a 2.88 goals-against average and a .893 saves percentage.

To someone who’s not familiar with Niemi, Pominville shared one important detail: “He’s won a Cup.” (Niemi was the No. 1 goalie when the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010.)

Hockey players live in a bit of a bubble during the season, so it’s not much of a surprise that Pominville was unaware of Montreal’s lineup change.

The Sabres, Pominville said, will make a quick study of Niemi prior to the 7 p.m. faceoff against the Canadiens at KeyBank Center.

“Our goalie coach and our scouting coach will have (more) on him before the game,” Pominville said. “We’ll have video and go through different stuff like that, that players aren’t necessarily aware of. Honestly, it does not change that much in the way we prepare for a game.”


The Sabres announced Thursday morning on Twitter that Carter Hutton would start in goal against Montreal.

Here are the lines from Thursday’s morning skate at KeyBank Center:

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