Ducharme makes numerous changes; Kotkaniemi to be left out

Montreal Canadiens interim head coach Dominique Ducharme decided to go all-in Monday, shuffling his roster from top to bottom ahead of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final series against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi will be left out, as will defencemen Erik Gustafsson and Jon Merrill.

The 20-year-old Finn will be replaced by Jake Evans in the starting lineup for this 'one-off,' while Gustafsson and Merrill will be replaced by Alexander Romanov and Brett Kulak at the blue line.

Kotkaniemi was benched for part of Game 3, which ended 6-3 in favour of the Lightning on Friday night. The forward was onmited to 11 minutes and 38 seconds of ice time and a minus-2 rating.

The Habs' third overall first-round pick in the 2018 draft had five goals and three assists in 19 playoff games in 2020-21, along with a minus-5 rating.

As a result, Kotkaniemi will miss his first postseason game since the Habs' first playoff game on May 20 against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on July 5, 2021.

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