After going down 3-0 in their Stanley Cup Final series, changes were expected by the Montreal Canadiens.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi will be a healthy scratch for Game 4 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, while Alexander Romanov will make his series debut.
Jake Evans will slot in as the team’s third-line center.
“He and Paul (Byron), that’s a line that we like and showed some really good things,” Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme said of Evans. “We just want to see those guys together. It’s nothing against KK or anything else. We have depth and we have options.”
The Canadiens also changed up their forward lines by moving up forward Josh Anderson to play with Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield. Tyler Toffoli will skate on the left wing with Phillip Danault and Brendan Gallagher. While Artturi Lehkonen will skate with Byron and Evans.
Romanov and Brett Kulak will slot in as the team’s third pair in place of Erik Gustafsson and John Merrill.
Kotkaniemi has five goals and three assists in 19 playoff games during the 2021 postseason. He has been in the lineup for every game during the Canadiens’ surprising run since he sat as a healthy scratch in Game 1 of their opening-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Evans has one goal in five playoff games.
Romanov has played just two games in the 2021 playoffs after playing 54 regular-season games with the Habs.
Kulak has one assist in 11 playoff games.
Ducharme said Romanov and Kulak are “dynamic skaters” who can help the team on the back end.
The Canadiens fell to the Lightning 6-3 in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final on Friday.