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Johnson Stars Again With 29-Save Performance

by Jason Seidling / Pittsburgh Penguins
PHILADELPHIA – Head coach Dan Bylsma elected to go with veteran goaltender Brent Johnson for the second straight night and for the third time in the past four contests.

Just like each of the two previous occasions, Johnson rewarded his head coach with a victory.

Johnson improved to 3-0 on the young season by denying 29 of the 30 shots the Flyers through his way.

“He has come up big for us the three games he has played,” Kris Letang said. “He has been playing really well. He is talking a lot back there and helping out the defensemen to find guys to clear in front of the net.”

The strong effort from Johnson came less than 24 hours after he made 22 saves in a 3-2 overtime victory over the New York Islanders at CONSOL Energy Center on Friday.

Johnson said it felt good to get right back in the crease and continue building off his strong start. He credited the play of his teammates in front of him as a leading factor in his success.

“I definitely felt good coming off of that big overtime victory,” Johnson said. “Everyone seemed like they were flying (on Saturday). The defense was boxing out the front of the net and letting me see the puck. For a goalie, that is fantastic.”

Power Surge

For the second night in a row the Penguins power play came through late in the game when the team needed it the most.

Sidney Crosby tallied twice on the man-advantage in the third period to help break open a 2-1 Penguins lead en route to a 5-1 victory over the Flyers.

Crosby’s goals came one night after defenseman Alex Goligoski secured the Penguins’ first official victory at CONSOL Energy Center by scoring on the power play 1:51 into overtime.

“It’s important for the team that we get the power play going,” Johnson said. “Once we get that clicking, we are going to be a tough team to stop.”

The Penguins have now picked up a power-play goal in four consecutive games, a stretch which has seen the team go 5-for-25 (20 percent) on the man-advantage.

While the numbers obviously provide a positive for the Penguins moving forward, Bylsma and Letang were even more pleased with how the Penguins went about scoring their power-play goals.

“I think the movement (in the zone was good),” Letang said. “I felt like our entries were good. It was just a question of time. I think we got that at the end. We had good movement and speed. We had some good shots on net.”

“I liked that last power play,” Bylsma said. “We got movement and motion and had guys moving to the net. We got a couple of big power-play goals in the third period. That is what we are hoping to achieve. To get two power-play goals to put the game away is big.”

All-Around Performance

Penguins defenseman Kris Letang turned in one of his best all-around games of the 2010-11 season on Saturday night.

The 23-year-old blueliner led all skaters with 27:29 minutes of ice time, had two assists, was credited with three hits and finished with a plus-two rating to earn the game’s No. 2 star.

While all of those numbers are what the Penguins are looking for from Letang, it was a pair of defensive gems made by Letang to break up a couple of two-on-one rushes for the Flyers that stood out the most.

With just under two minutes to play in the opening period, Philadelphia’s James van Riemsdyk was leading the rush into the Pittsburgh zone when Letang dove face forward along the ice to knock the puck from his stick before he could get a shot away.

During the final minutes of the second period, Danny Briere led an odd-man rush with van Riemsdyk. Once again Letang went down to the ice to prevent Briere from sneaking a pass through.

“It’s something that we practice,” Letang said. “You just try to time yourself with the shooter or passer to slide into his lane. I just went down and was able to make a nice play.”

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