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Notebook: Johnson Thrashes Atlanta in Goal

by Caitlin Kasunich / Pittsburgh Penguins
As the Pittsburgh Penguins ended their five-game losing streak after winning Tuesday night’s game against the Atlanta Thrashers 5-2, it came as no surprise that the team’s No. 2 goaltender, Brent Johnson, played yet another strong and admirable game.

“My mind frame was not to do too much out there and not try to jump around and make saves on my back,” Johnson said. “I just wanted to help give my team a chance to win. We played phenomenally. When we had a 5-2 lead, guys were blocking pucks and playing great on the penalty kill.”

Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma couldn’t be more pleased, especially since the Thrashers outshot the Penguins 11-1 early in the first period.

“He played a real strong game in New Jersey and didn’t get the win,” he said. “Tonight, especially early on when they had those 11 shots, it was big to have some great saves. And not only the saves, but he was confident in there, and it looked like he was going to be real solid and allow his team a chance to get back in it. That is exactly what he did.”  

Jordan Staal, who had two goals in Tuesday’s game, also attributed the team’s big win to Johnson’s talent on the ice.

That was probably our best effort over the last five or six games defensively. It was an effort by everyone that we were able to get the win tonight. - Brent Johnson
“Johnny did a great job off the bat to be ready for that game for us,” he said.

Not only did Johnson make countless saves throughout the game, but he was also credited with an assist on Staal’s second goal of the game.

“That was probably our best effort over the last five or six games defensively,” Johnson said. “It was an effort by everyone that we were able to get the win tonight. “

Letang Boosts Defensive Scoring

Kris Letang’s goal against the Atlanta Thrashers on Tuesday night was the first goal scored by a defensive player other than Sergei Gonchar in 24 games.

But when the slot opened up in the first period, Letang knew exactly what to do.

“I kind of saw my guy get hit along the wall, so I knew my guy was down,” he said. “Everyone played man-on-man after that, so I just walked to the net.”  

The last time that a defensive player other than Gonchar scored a goal was during the Nov. 14 game against the Boston Bruins when both Mark Eaton and Jay McKee were able to put the puck in the net past the Bruins’ Tim Thomas.

“I had a big chance today to get in the zone,” Letang said. “Sometimes those things just happen for us.”

But, although it might have felt great for a defenseman to contribute to the 5-2 win against the Thrashers, Letang said he doesn’t think that Pittsburgh’s defensive players need to particularly focus on scoring goals in future games.

“Defensemen are usually there to defend,” he said. “Sometimes it takes some time before we score.”

Nevertheless, Letang added that the team as a whole created numerous solid plays and power plays throughout the game and by building up these skills against future teams, the Penguins will only become more successful.

Caputi Scores First Goal in the Steel City

After getting called up from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton team this week, Luca Caputi put his game face on and was ready to play.

“The butterflies are always there, but I’d be scared if they weren’t,” Caputi said Tuesday morning after practice, and it’s evident that those butterflies did nothing but help him to score a goal in his first game with Pittsburgh this season against the Atlanta Thrashers later that night.

Ruslan Fedotenko, who had an assist on the goal and took shifts with the rookie, was impressed after watching Caputi play hard against the Thrashers to get the goal.

“I thought that made a difference,” Fedotenko said. “Everybody played hard.”

With Evgeni Malkin getting the other assist for the goal, Caputi was happy to score his first goal at Mellon Arena.

“It just happened so quickly,” he said. “To hear the crowd roar was something special. It makes me tingle just thinking about it. “
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