Not only does Chad Johnson get a lot of days between games these days, the Bruins backup goaltender also gets a lot of time between shots, it seems.
While Carolina picked up its play in the third period Saturday, the Hurricanes struggled through the first 40 minutes, in which they managed just 10 shots on net. They were so impotent in the second half of the first period and first half of the second that Johnson didn’t see a shot for more than 22 minutes.
“You just try to follow the play a little bit more with your eyes and you just try to focus on the play and when it is in the zone and you’re following it,” said Johnson, who finished with 22 saves in a 3-2 overtime win over Carolina. “You just don’t try and think about not having shots for 10 minutes. I think when you start thinking about it then it can sort of put you at a disadvantage.”
His coach recognizes the situation isn’t necessarily optimal.
“That’s tough for any goalie,” Claude Julien said. “I think when you sit in there and halfway through the game or whatever you’ve got maybe seven, 10 shots, it’s not easy.
“So at the end of the day you look and I think he’s 3-1 now, and 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.”
With Tuukka Rask firmly entrenched as the No. 1 goalie, Johnson has sometimes been left to molder on the bench. But with the Bruins’ schedule getting a bit busier, and with him playing well in his chances, he might be seeing more action.
“I try and just take advantage of the opportunity I have,” Johnson said. “It’s nice to get in more games and be in there more consistently instead of having to wait two or three weeks, and I feel the more I play the more confident I’ll be and the more consistent my game will be. I’m feeling like I’m in a little bit more of a groove right now for sure.”
Adam McQuaid gets closer
Adam McQuaid missed another game with a lower-body injury (hip or groin), though he seems closer to returning. Kevan Miller was again in the lineup in his place. Julien said of McQuaid, “He’s skating. I’d say he’s very, very close to being ready.”
Dennis Seidenberg, meanwhile, is still not skating, so it’s unlikely he’ll play Monday against the Penguins. The Bruins nearly had another injury to a defenseman, with Torey Krug heading to the dressing room after blocking a shot late in the game.
He returned to the bench, but did not get back into the game. He said he was fine.
Hot on the dot
Carolina entered the game winning the faceoff battle in each of its last 10 games, winning 57.5 percent in that time. But the Bruins won 63 percent of the faceoffs Saturday, led by Chris Kelly, who won 12 of his 17 tries. Kelly had recently been replaced on the dot by Carl Soderberg because of a minor injury, but it appears that Kelly has recovered. Patrice Bergeron won 14 of 22 and David Krejci took 9 of 14 . . . The Bruins are 6-0-2 in their last eight games at home. “It’s been a huge focus for us, when you’re at home you’re supposed to win, especially on this team,” Reilly Smith said. “So we have done a good job so far, points in pretty much every game we have played at home this month, so if we can just keep this momentum going then we should be good.” . . . Carolina coach Kirk Muller was not happy about Soderberg’s play just prior to the winning goal, believing the Bruins winger should have been called for tripping. As he said, “We lose a guy and he goes down. Let’s call a spade a spade.”Amalie Benjamin can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.