Boychuk honored, Johnson shined in 3-2 victory over Bruins
The TD Garden was buzzing Thursday night for the return of beloved ex-Bruin Johnny Boychuk. Boychuk received numerous ovations and even a video montage of his career in Boston, but fans maybe forgot that Chad Johnson was back in the building too.
Backing up Tuukka Rask last season, Johnson was sensational posting a 17-4-3 record with two shutouts and a 2.10 goals against average. If Johnson didn’t play this well last season in Boston, maybe Rask wouldn’t have been as fresh as he was on route to his first Vezina Trophy Award.
On Thursday night, Johnson was no different than he was last season. He stepped in and stood tall making 30 saves on the night against his former team.
The 28 year-old net minder improved to 2-0-0 on the season backing up Jaroslav Halak. When Johnson gets his opportunity to play, his coach knows he will put forth a strong effort.
“I thought their guy made a couple of outstanding saves in the first forty minutes and I thought our guy did the same there when he had to,” Head coach Jack Capuano said post game. “So, I thought both goaltenders were real good. I’m real pleased with the way Chad played.”
Johnson made a few game saving stops during the night, but one big save came off a shot from Reilly Smith that Johnson turned away keeping his team in the lead.
“That save really got the bench,” Capuano said. “Because it could have been a different game there, obviously.”
Boychuk really enjoyed his return to Boston seeing old teammates and being steam rolled by Milan Lucic, but he gave credit to the other ex-Bruin as well, his new goaltender.
“They had some good chances, but the other ex-Bruin (Chad Johnson) made some great saves for us and kept us in the game when we needed it.”
The game-winning goal was scored off the stick of Cal Clutterbuck, but he was diverting the attention to his goaltender as well and his 30 save effort.
“We could probably give him the first star on that one,” Clutterbuck said. “He was huge for us in the third period. He made a couple of huge stops and threw out the first two. It’s a pretty good return to the city for him.”
Johnson faced his former teammates for the first time since practices last season and had some butterflies in his stomach before the game.
“I felt good and I was excited,” Johnson said. “I think it was the most nervous I’ve been since I think my first NHL game. Just knowing the amount of pressure because you know everybody on that team. It’s like playing your family and in some sense or your brothers. I definitely had some nerves to start, but I just tried to use as much as possible and compete and I’m just happy we got back on track here with a win.”
When asked if all the pressure being put on Boychuk took away from the pressure on him, Johnson nodded his head in approval.
“Yeah, I mean I don’t think either way there was going to be too much,” Johnson said. “Even if he wasn’t here, I don’t think there would have been a whole lot. Johnny (Boychuk) obviously has won a Stanley Cup with the team and he had a real major role for them over how many years he was here. So, I don’t think it would have been as big a deal, I can admit that.”
One of Johnson’s former teammates who played in front of him last season Dougie Hamilton, praised his ex-teammate after the B’s 3-2 loss forcing them back under a .500 record.
“Yeah, obviously we know he’s a good goalie and he was a good goalie for us and I loved to play in front of him,” Hamilton said. “He played well and there was a lot of scrambles and stuff like that that he came across and made the saves and I guess it was unfortunate for us that he played well.”
There may have been a lot of chants for Boychuk and presumably so for his role with the Black and Gold over the last six seasons, but Johnson made more of an impact Thursday night for the Islanders and he was the main reason why they came away with two points.