BOSTON -- With a weekend road back-to-back scheduled against the Boston Bruins on Saturday and the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday, New York Islanders coach Jack Capuano has decided to give backup goaltender Chad Johnson a rare second start in a week when the Islanders face the Bruins at TD Garden (5 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, FX-CA).
Johnson made 15 saves in his last start, a 4-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Jan. 31.
"I thought he played real well last time here," Capuano said, referring to a 3-2 Islanders win against the Bruins with Johnson in net Oct. 23. "And then obviously we've got back-to-back games. So there's no question that when we made our decision as a staff that played into it."
Johnson played for the Bruins last season before signing with the Islanders as an unrestricted free agent during the summer. He was comfortable back at TD Garden, with 30 saves on 32 shots to earn the win. Since that start he has allowed four or more goals in seven of 10 starts.
For the season Johnson has a 3.43 goals-against average and .865 save percentage in 14 games. As Tuukka Rask's backup with the Bruins last season, Johnson had a .925 save percentage and 2.10 GAA in 27 games. With Islanders No. 1 goaltender Jaroslav Halak having a 2.42 GAA and .911 save percentage this season, Capuano has found it tough to get Johnson work.
"I think the Olympics last year helped me out in getting [to play] more often," Johnson said. "You know they had a good schedule for Tuukka and myself. This year with the schedule being a little bit more spread out, it's definitely more challenging for myself not having any sort of a game plan. And obviously Jaro's been playing so well. Just the way the schedule's worked, you know it's been hard for me to get in. So for myself right now it's good to kind of get some starts close together for sure."
The Islanders ended a three-game losing streak with a 3-2 shootout win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday. The previous time the Islanders lost three in a row they responded with four straight victories, so they have experience limiting their doldrums and hope to continue that against the Bruins.
"I think our staff has prepared our guys for what they need to do to get ready for a hockey club. The thing about this club now is, they take it upon themselves," Capuano said. "When we leave that room as a staff, I think guys have the accountability amongst one another and I think what's said obviously is positive among the group and they know what to do to win hockey games. And you're going to face adversity throughout the course of the year, there's tough buildings to play in, and you know it's how you respond. I felt though we've responded pretty well all year."
The Bruins did not hold a morning skate. They also have a back-to-back this weekend, with a game against the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday.
Here are the projected lineups:
Anders Lee - John Tavares - Josh Bailey
Mikhail Grabovski - Frans Nielsen - Nikolay Kulemin
Michael Grabner - Brock Nelson - Ryan Strome
Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck
Nick Leddy - Johnny Boychuk
Thomas Hickey - Brian Strait
Calvin de Haan - Travis Hamonic
Scratched: Lubomir Visnovsky, Matt Donovan
Injured: Kyle Okposo (upper body)
Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Reilly Smith
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Loui Eriksson
Chris Kelly - Carl Soderberg - David Pastrnak
Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Craig Cunningham
Zdeno Chara - Dougie Hamilton
Dennis Seidenberg - Adam McQuaid
Torey Krug - Kevan Miller
Scratched: Jordan Caron, Matt Bartkowski
Status update: Capuano confirmed he would go with the same lineup from Thursday against the Flyers, outside of the change in goal. That means Visnovsky will be a healthy scratch for a second straight game and Strait will play. Strait had been a healthy scratch for the previous two games. ... The Bruins juggled their right wings toward the end of their loss to the New York Rangers on Wednesday. But they practiced in the above alignment late in the week. ... There’s a chance Subban will get his first NHL start this weekend.
Who’s hot: Tavares has eight goals and 14 points in his past nine games. ... Bergeron and Lucic each have two goals in the past three games.