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JESPERI KOTKANIEMI CALLS HIS COSTLY PENALTY 'REALLY DUMB'; TAKES FULL RESPONSIBILITY

While Montreal Canadiens forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi has parts of two NHL seasons under his belt, he's still just 20-years-old and learning the ropes. In his team's 6-5 shootout loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night, Kotkaniemi learned a lesson the hard way, taking a costly unsportsmanlike conduct penalty midway through the second period.

With the game tied at 2, Kotkaniemi became frustrated after being tripped by Canucks goaltender Braden Holtby near the Vancouver net. Kotkaniemi started yelling at the referee and eventually ended up in the box, which led to Vancouver taking a 3-2 lead in the game.

"It was just a really dumb thing to do for a young guy," Kotkaniemi told The Athletic's Arpon Basu. "That probably cost us a win, possibly cost us a win tonight. For sure we'll learn from that."

Habs head coach Claude Julien seemed to try to cut Kotkaniemi some slack without letting him off the hook completely.

"There's no doubt that sometimes players get frustrated," Julien said. "He's a young player, and when you're a young player and you take on a ref - he hasn't earned his stripes yet in the NHL, if you will. He has to be more disciplined than that. That's certainly something he can learn, take a lesson from what happened today."

Brendan Gallagher, Kotkaniemi's teammate, agreed with Julien's assessment.

"To be honest, he didn't say anything worse than I've been saying," said Gallagher, but added young guys need to learn they don't have the same leash as players who have been around for a while.

Kotkaniemi did make up for the mistake later in the game, scoring his first of the season to tie it up with less than 10 minutes left in the third. He also added an assist earlier in the night.

TIM TUCKER
JANUARY 21, 2021  (10H48)
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