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Johnson brilliant in win over Canucks

Chad Johnson turned in a solid performance with numerous big saves on Saturday

by George Johnson @GeorgejohnsonCH /

CALGARY, AB -- Only 24 hours earlier, the Flames had unloaded more rounds of ammo at Ryan Miller than Texas officers did at the Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow getaway car on a rural road near Bienville, LA back on May 23rd, 1934.

And still, somehow, the Vancouver Canucks survived the barrage and slipped out their grasp.

From his perch at the end of the visitors' bench, Chad Johnson got a bird's-eye view of the ol' campaigner's brilliance.

Well, Saturday, he equaled or arguably trumped Miller.

Not in terms of sheer volume, maybe. Miller blocked 44 pellets on Friday. But Johnson's 28-stop turn included a litany gems that glinted in the light every bit as brightly.

This was Ryan Miller's turn to sit, watch, and marvel.

"I just worry about my own game,'' Johnson said of consciously trying to emulate or outdo Friday's show. "You can't start competing against a guy who's across the way or anything like that.

"If he's struggling, then you're not having to work as hard because you're 'out-playing' him no matter what you do. You can't really worry about the other guy's game.

"If he's playing really well and you're not as good, it can get in your head. So for me, I just worry about when it's in my zone."

Video: Johnson on keys to Saturday's win over Vancouver

For this night, anyway, the Calgary Flames should've changed their seasonal slogan.

From It's Go Time to It's NO Time.

'Cause whatever the Canucks were pitching, Chad Johnson was having none of it.

"It was huge,'' he said, of the 3-1 of the Canucks at the Scotiabank Saddledome. "We played a good game yesterday and probably deserved better.

"We just couldn't score on Miller and they got some lucky bounces. So we just wanted to stick with it, be confident in our game.

"It was a fun atmosphere out there. Back and forth, tons of chances, both ways.

"Even (Saturday) night they had some good scoring chances. If you don't watch the game, you look at the stats and see 13 shots" - Vancouver's aggregate over the 4-2 victory - and say 'Oh, what an easy night.' But it's the quality that matters.

"They're a good team. They cycle well down low and have good players in the slot.

"The guys did a great job in front of me, battling. And the PK was great the whole game. It was fun.

Picking a favorite Johnson stop Saturday was kind of like having to select a of truffle pasta of choice or a best Beatles song.

Among the - A) the breakaway theft of Loui Eriksson in the first period, or B) shutting the wickets on a slick Alex Edler close-crease deflection of an Eriksson pass; or C, D or E) one of three in a row, two off old Jayson Megna, the first off a collarbone, the second, even more spectacularly with his stick lying on the ice, or the follow-up try by Brandon Sutter; or F) spread-eagling on the ice to stab his left toe at another golden Sutter chance, during a late Vancouver power play, that essentially preserved the W.

Video: VAN@CGY: Johnson stones Eriksson on breakaway chance

"He was really great,'' lauded winger Michael Frolik, whose breakaway strike at 18:10 of the third on Jacob Markstrom, shortly after that last Johnson stop mentioned, sealed the deal.

"You can see what a goalie can do. Yesterday, Miller kind of stole the game. Johnny was hot today. He helped us a lot, especially at the end there, with their powerplay.

"He had a great performance."

The earlier paddle save, in particular, elicited an instinctual roar of equal parts disbelief and approval from the 'Dome partisans.

When asked what he thinking on that particular stop, Johnson shook his head reproachfully.

"'What a bad rebound', actually. It just kinda came off up real high, off my right collarbone almost. I'm thinking lot of vulgar words in my mind really quickly.

"I just tried to get over as quick as possible because I knew it would be a bad goal if it went in.

"I don't like being in those situations. That's not my game. But if I have to, I'll jump over there. Dougie (Hamilton) was over there, too. He said he would've had it. So I believe him."

A flick of Johnny Gaudreau's wrists, stationed out just inside Vancouver's blueline, set the table for Calgary's first goal, Sean Monahan pounding the slick pass from No. 13 net-ward, where a lurking Alex Chiasson got a nick on the shot at 14:26 of the first period.

Not so very long afterwards, robust right winger Garnet Hathaway, back in harness after two games of enforced press-box idleness, outfoxed Alex Edler along the woodwork and slung a pass into the

Crafty old soul that he is, Matt Stajan, out-legging a Vancouver defenceman to the blue paint, re-directed for his first goal in 14 games, dating back to Dec. 4th.

Stajan's goal bumped him to 16 points on the season, only one shy of his 80-game total of a year ago.

The Canucks began to pick up the pace and laid claim to the second period, along with its only goal, Bo Horvat circling from behind the net, sashaying past Jyrki Jokipakka and solving Johnson, at 3:04.

From there on in, he was flawless, and often breathtaking.

Frolik's 10th of the year, on the trigger end of an eye-catching breakaway pass from the 19-year-old Matthew Tkachuk - pushing his point-scoring streak to nine games (1G, 9A) - put an end to any speculation.

"I think my D got caught a little there,'' recalled Frolik. "So I yelled and (Tkachuk) saw me there. He feed me the nice pass.

"I'm happy that went in because we could kind of relax at the end."

With goaltending the calibre the Flames received Saturday, everybody can be a lot more chill.

"I would say,'' concurred coach Glen Gulutzan, "that the biggest factor for us tonight was our goalie, Johnny.

"I thought he was real polished, real calm, real steady, made some huge saves.

"I thought he looked in the groove. I was hoping, especially in the second when we took in lots of water, that he was going to continue.

"And that save at the end just capped it all off."

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