The Detroit Red Wings were a Chad Johnson glove save away from extending their point streak to 14 games. The awesome stop by the Sabres netminder sealed the win for the Buffalo, though, giving them back-to-back wings over Detroit and Los Angeles.
When you think game-saving stops, the name Chad Johnson likely doesn’t come to mind. But the Buffalo Sabres backup netminder deserved the first, second and third stars Monday night after he played a big part in the Sabres walking away with two points against the Detroit Red Wings, who have been one of the hottest teams in the league.
Through nearly 55 minutes, the only goal of the contest came in the second period when Detroit’s Brad Richards got the Red Wings on the board four minutes into the frame. But in the final 4:15 of the game, the Sabres struck twice — the first off the stick of Ryan O’Reilly and the eventual game-winner from Johan Larsson one minute later. Then the Sabres handed it over to Johnson, who did the rest.
With the Detroit net empty, the puck was worked to the blueline where Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall hammered a shot towards the Buffalo net, which was tipped by Dylan Larkin. The puck made it to the slot area where it bounced onto the stick of Gustav Nyquist, who had a wide-open cage to shoot at with Johnson completely out of position. With Nyquist primed to bury the game-tying goal, Johnson dove across to steal the goal with his glove:
Johnson ended the contest with 32 saves and first star honors. Rightfully so, too, because his save helped the Sabres halt the Red Wings 13-game point streak.
In his last nine outings, Johnson is 5-3-1 with a 1.87 goals-against average and .934 save percentage, and he’s improved his stats for the season to a 2.46 GAA and .910 SP after a shaky start. The 29-year-old Johnson and 22-year-old Linus Ullmark have been called upon to take the goaltending duties with off-season acquisition Robin Lehner sidelined since the opening night of the season with an ankle sprain.
Johnson was acquired from the New York Islanders at the trade deadline in 2014-15 for goaltender Michal Neuvirth.