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Johnson Stands Tall In 33-Save Shutout

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
RALEIGH, N.C. – In his last game between the pipes, Brent Johnson came up one shot shy of posting his first shutout since 2006. In his next start, he didn’t make that same mistake.

Johnson was perfect in goal Saturday night, stopping all 33 shots he faced to record his first shutout as a Penguin in Pittsburgh’s 3-0 victory against Carolina at RBC Center.

“I feel good. The confidence is good,” Johnson said. “We’ve done a fantastic job at the net. … We had a lot of first-touch clears, which is fantastic for a goalie to see. As soon as the puck was on our sticks it was out of our zone, which was great. We got the two points and that is the most important thing.”

Johnson improved to an unbeaten 5-0-1 on the season, and his goals-against average and save percentage – both of which ranked second in the NHL entering the game – will only get a boost.

Johnson, whose last shutout was April 1, 2006 against Ottawa (46 saves), has allowed only one goal in his last 136:31 minutes of play.

“It feels great, it really does,” Johnson said of his early season success. “I’m just happy to help the team win. I am just simplifying my game, trying to be big in front of the net and stop the puck with my body.”

In honor of Johnson’s strong effort, the team blasted Led Zepplin following the game in the locker room. Johnson is a huge Zepplin fan and even has the band’s graphics on his goalie mask. But the players don’t mind the song choices, as long as Johnson keeps playing the way he’s been playing.

“Whatever he wants to hear,” Crosby said. “Whatever he says goes.”

The Penguins were not happy after suffering a 3-2 loss to rival Philadelphia Friday night at CONSOL Energy Center. Such losses are inevitable in an 82-game seasons, but how a team responds is a test of the group’s mental toughness and character.

Pittsburgh held a meeting following the game and responded with a dominant 3-0 victory at Carolina.

“We did what we wanted to accomplish tonight,” Johnson said. “We wanted to respond and we did. Right from the start the game we were jumping, getting pucks deep and forechecking.”

“Everyone has a lot of pride and high expectations of each other,” Crosby said. “That was a great way to respond tonight. It was big for us. We didn’t play well (Friday). We had an opportunity tonight and everyone played well, did the things they were supposed to do, and we got the result we wanted.”

The Penguins were clinging to a 2-0 lead midway through the third period. The Carolina Hurricanes had the momentum on their side, as well as a 47-second two-man advantage.

Pittsburgh killed the penalty – thanks to the efforts of Matt Cooke, Craig Adams, Brooks Orpik and goaltender Johnson – and then broke the Hurricanes’ backs with a tally at the 8:10 mark of the final frame.

The sequence that led to the Penguins’ third goal – scored by Pascal Dupuis, his second of the game – was a microcosm of the team’s entire performance. It all started with a great pad save by Johnson, who continues his brilliant play between the pipes.

Then Sidney Crosby sacrificed his body, lying in front of a slap shot, to block the Hurricanes attempt. Pittsburgh transitioned quickly with a two-on-two led by Dupuis. The Penguins mustached winger carried the puck into the near circle and ripped a shot far side to give Pittsburgh a commanding 3-0 lead.

“Everybody did the right things,” Dupuis said. “We executed really well, all the little details that makes us a successful team. We did those tonight and responded to the meeting we had (Friday) night in the locker room.”

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