The Canes took Kotkaniemi, 21, away from the Canadiens by making a one-year, $6.1 million offer sheet to a player who was a restricted free agent. The Canadiens, with salary-cap concerns, did not match the offer sheet, instead taking first-and third-round picks in the 2022 NHL Draft from Carolina and later trading for center Christian Dvorak.
Brind'Amour had Kotkaniemi on Aho's line with Teravainen to start Thursday's game. That put the three Finns together for the first time in a game, all the better for communication, and also to possibly boost Kotkaniemi's comfort level in this game.
"He was good,
The Canadiens believed they had scored the game's first goal on a power play when Brendan Gallagher redirected a shot at 5:33 of the first. But Brind'Amour won a coach's challenge for goaltender interference by Gallagher, who was in the crease, and the goal was disallowed. More boos.
Kotkaniemi said he quickly eyed the schedule after coming to Carolina and saw the Canes had an early trip to Montreal. He also quipped that he has been so concerned about the game in recent days that he headed out on golf courses with Teravainen.
One concern: Kotkanimei has been adjusting to playing a wing after spending much of his three years with Montreal at center. His minutes were limited in the first two games — he averaged about 12 minutes in ice time in wins over the New York Islanders and Nashville Predators. It hasn't all been smooth.
"On the ice, you can see he has potential," Aho said before the game. "Big body, big long reach, stuff like that. Just a matter of time before he gets more comfortable with our system, obviously playing as a winger.
"It takes some time. It could be tonight or next game but it's going to happen eventually. I went through that. I was a winger before playing center. For sure it takes a little time but I'm sure he'll figure it out pretty soon."(c)2021 The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.