BOSTON, MA - Just over five minutes into the first period on Saturday afternoon at TD Garden, Edmonton's Ales Hemsky raced on a partial breakaway towards Chad Johnson between the pipes.
Johnson stood his ground, and thwarted the chance on the Oilers' first shot of the game. The netminder made 21 more saves en route to a 4-0 win over Edmonton, and his first shutout as a Boston Bruin.
He now has a 10-3-0 record in Black & Gold.
"His record speaks for himself," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said of Johnson following the shutout. "I think the way he played tonight – even though people are going to say he didn’t get tested - but we know that’s as big a challenge for a goaltender as any. Especially when you’re playing a team like that that does have a lot of skill."
"He’s been playing well."
"It means a lot," said Johnson. "For me, it’s always just about the wins but I think when you can add a shutout there, it’s just kind of like a bonus point for myself. To get it at home too, it’s nice. It’s always nice to get a shutout."
Johnson did get help in front with the Bruins' better effort in the bounceback win from their 4-1 loss to Montreal on Thursday. They got back to playing their game.
Edmonton Head Coach Dallas Eakins knew that would be the case from the get-go.
"Well listen, that’s a team that I think every team in the league aspires to be defensively," he said following the game. "They don’t give up much."
"We managed the puck a lot better and broke out pretty well," said defenseman Matt Bartkowski, who tallied an assist in the win. "I can’t really remember spending much time in our own end. That led to offense and then we managed to get some goals and win. As long as we manage the puck well, we tend to do pretty well."
Johnson only had to make two saves in the opening frame, though one had to be an all-important one on Hemsky's partial breakaway. He then stopped 10 shots apiece in the second and third periods to finish out the game.
"I thought everyone was pretty satisfied with that first period, giving them only two shots," said Daniel Paille. "Johnson, give him credit, he wasn’t too busy but he kept himself in it and made sure that when they were coming at us he made the big saves for us. He was definitely solid throughout the whole game."
"Right from the start, we emphasized being smart and working harder," said Dougie Hamilton, whose goal 6:43 into the third helped break the game open. "And I thought we did a good job at limiting them."
At the other end, Oilers goalie Ben Scrivens stopped all nine of the Bruins' first-period attempts, and their first four shots of the second. He had come into the game after a 3-0 shutout of San Jose, that set an NHL record with 59 saves in the regular season performance.
It appeared he may have carried over that magic.
But David Krejci broke Scrivens' shutout at 126:41 with a power-play tally that sliced through three Oilers in front, with Zdeno Chara and Milan Lucic waited on the doorstep to pounce on any rebounds. They didn't need to. The goalie's streak ended at 102 saves.
Scrivens still remained solid in net, though, until the Bruins broke through with a three-goal third period. Dougie Hamilton jumped into the play, picked up his own rebound and wrapped around the goal, banking the puck off the goalie and in.
"We were really engaged right off the start there, and we had that emotion that we were looking for," said Johnson. "We had chances early, just kind of missed the net, and the goalie made some good saves, and we just kind of stuck with it and got a good result in the end."
And in Johnson's end, he got the good result he was working towards. The goalie has played more frequently - and confidently - as of late, with four straight wins in goal since the Bruins' victory in Dallas.
"I think you get more comfortable. I think that routine, the flow of the game, it comes a lot easier for you," said Johnson, on his upped confidence with more play between the pipes.
"The focus is always there. That experience you have with playing more and getting just that flow like I always say, and it definitely helps playing closer together and within days of each game that I play."
Johnson's rhythm has given Julien confidence, too, with two solid netminders in he and Tuukka Rask.
"You go about it the best you can. In those heavy schedules you need both of them," said Julien. "You’ve got to show that you have confidence in them too because they feel it, they’ll feel whether the team or the coaches have confidence in their goaltenders."
"He’s a guy that’s come in here and worked hard, and we’ve given him that opportunity – maybe not right from the get-go, but he’s had that opportunity to step in and play well."
With just three games before the Olympic break now, starting with the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday, it gives Julien the option of slotting either goaltender in, and knowing he'll get the result.
"I just try and be ready for any situation," said Johnson. "I try to stay focused on just the present day."
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