COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Journeyman goalie Chad Johnson, in his first season with Calgary, is beginning to show he can be a source of stability for the up-and-down Flames.
Johnson made 34 saves for his second shutout in five starts, leading Calgary over the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-0 on Wednesday night.
“We just wanted to come in here and stick to our system,” said Johnson, who also blanked the Minnesota Wild on Nov. 15. “Get some pucks deep and wait for our opportunities and we did that and capitalized on the chances that we had.”
Johnson is 4-1 in his past five starts.
Troy Brouwer and Micheal Ferland scored for Calgary, which has sought consistency between the pipes during the early part of the season. The Flames, whose maligned special teams came up big in this one, have traded wins and losses for five games.
“Johnny made some big saves for us and that breeds confidence throughout the lineup,” Calgary’s Matt Stajan said.
Columbus dropped to 10-3-3 in its last 16 and has lost two straight at home since rolling off seven wins in a row, a franchise record.
“We were on the outside all night long,” Columbus coach John Tortorella said. “Chad saw every shot. I thought our first period was good but from then it went downhill.”
Calgary, ranked 29th in penalty killing entering the game, was perfect during a long Columbus power play in the second period, and then its league-worst power play added a goal in the third.
Calgary led 1-0 despite being significantly outshot before Ferland snapped one past Sergei Bobrovsky from the slot at 6:25 of the third. Leading to the score, Dennis Wideman kept the puck in the zone on a play that Markus Hannikainen tried to skate out of danger.
Johnson did the rest, calmly turning aside shot after shot.
“There were times when we were on our heels but I think we still stuck together and battled as a group,” he said.
After a scoreless first period, the action picked up in the second. Matthew Tkachuk’s double minor for high-sticking 14 seconds in put the Blue Jackets on the man advantage, but the league’s top power play only mustered one shot. The Flames allowed three power-play scores Monday in a loss at Buffalo.
“Sloppy, it hurt us momentum wise,” Tortorella said. “Four minutes we really had nothing accomplished. I think they end up with a couple of scoring chances.”
Calgary took the lead shortly after aided by a bad sequence for Seth Jones. He was flat footed in his own zone when his pass was easily intercepted by Brouwer at the blue line. Kris Versteeg got the puck and marched around Jones, threading a pass back to Brouwer for the doorstep tap-in to make it 1-0 at 6:35.
“I just tried to make a play and get it over to Brouwer going to the net,” Versteeg said.
Five minutes later, Cam Atkinson zoomed in on a breakaway, but Johnson gloved his shot.
“We were able to turn a corner after he (Johnson) stopped that breakaway in the second and we know it wasn’t pretty before that,” Stajan said. “But then we started to get pucks deep and shots on net. We played a solid third period. It’s a good road win.”
NOTES: Brouwer’s goal was his first in 10 games. … Jones played his second game since missing six with a foot injury. … Columbus LW Matt Calvert, who last Friday scored an overtime goal to down the Rangers after getting 36 stitches in his forehead during the game, was scratched with an upper-body ailment. … Versteeg returned after missing nine games with a bad groin. …Calgary C Sam Bennett skated in his 100th career game.
Blue Jackets: Visit Tampa Bay on Sunday.
Flames: Play the third of a season-long six-game road trip Sunday in Boston.