BUFFALO, New York – It’s been a long time coming for Penguins goaltender Brent Johnson
Johnson recorded his first win since Feb. 12 as Pittsburgh bested the Buffalo Sabres, 5-3, at First Niagara Center Friday night.
Johnson, who has missed 17 games during that stretch with an undisclosed injury, made 25 saves to help the Penguins stop a skid that saw them lose three out of four games.
“The end result is the key. I’m very satisfied with the end result,” Johnson said. “It was like a playoff game. There was a lot of bumping and stuff going on down low, behind the net. It was just a hard fought battle by both teams.”
“(Johnson) had to make some great saves and held strong in the third period,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “It was a really hard fought game, in front of the net and a playoff type of game. It was good to get Brent the win.”
Johnson last played Feb. 19 (coincidently in Buffalo). He’s been working his way back into the lineup from his undisclosed injury. It was a big game for Johnson, not only getting the win but just seeing game action as the regular season draws to a close.
“I feel good. Really good,” he said.
Johnson appeared to get more comfortable as the game went on. He allowed a goal to Buffalo’s Tyler Ennis from a bad angle, but was able to shake that off and hold down the fort.
Johnson was particularly strong in the third period as the Sabres made a furious attempt to get the game-tying goal. Whether it was a couple of split pad saves on Drew Stafford or a point-blank glove saves, Johnson was equal to the task.
“I couldn’t hold the puck to save my life. It was one of those battle game,” Johnson said. “I just tried staying in front of it. Basically that’s what I did. A couple plays I’d like to take back. I’d like to get all the minuses for that second goal (to Ennis) for the guys. After that the guys worked hard and we got a great win. It’s a tough building to play in and a pretty hot team.”
But the most important thing for Johnson wasn’t his own play, but getting a big win for his team as the stretch run of the regular season kicks off.
“It’s huge. The games from here on out are jockeying for position in the playoffs,” he said. “Any two points that you can get, however they come by, is well worth it.”