When a hockey team holds another hockey team without a shot for a shade under 23 minutes during an NHL game, it stands to reason that team’s goalie is going to have a yawn of an outing.
That was hardly the case for Chad Johnson in Boston’s 3-2 overtime win over the Carolina Hurricanes, but the B’s backup goaltender did only end up being pushed into making 22 saves for the win. The erratic nature of the Carolina attack – or what passed from it from the 10 minute mark of the first period until the start of the third period – actually made it a little more challenging for Johnson to stay in his rhythm.
But the fact it was never more than a one-goal lead for the Black and Gold kept him locked into the proceedings.
“The goalie gets hot, or a weird bounce or weird deflection, and things can happen and a game can be tied up,” said Johnson, who has a 2.21 goals against average and a .917 save percentage on the season. “But when I’m in the game, for me, I just focus on being prepared when they’re coming down on me and worrying about myself.
“[It’s about] being in position and the little things that I like to do to make sure I’m ready. Everything else is just a distraction and I try to not let that creep into my head.”
Carolina’s first goal was a power play strike by Andrej Sekera that Johnson never saw around a screen from the 6-foot-9 body of Zdeno Chara, and the second was a shorthanded breakaway after an errant pass from Milan Lucic near the offensive blue line. Patrick Dwyer made a nice move to beat Johnson high with the chance, but otherwise Johnson was solid enough to improve his record to 3-1-0 on the season.
That kind of win-loss performance is exactly what the bottom-line Bruins are looking for out of Tuukka Rask’s understudy.
“That’s tough for any goalie. I think when you sit in there and halfway through the game, or whatever, you’ve got maybe seven, ten shots, it’s not easy,” said Claude Julien. “So at the end of the day, you look and I think he’s 3-1-0 now. That’s what you want from your second goaltender; is that he can go in there and allow you to win some games.
“So far he’s done a pretty good job despite the fact that he’s had some long breaks in between those games.”
That may change in the future as the schedule bunches up, and Tuukka Rask might require more frequent breaks in a busy schedule. To this point Johnson has answered all questions in a handful of very different hockey games that have unfolded with him between the pipes.
That’s all you can ask from Johnson as he proves his worthiness as a backup goaltender dropped into one challenging situation after another.