Chad Johnson stops 39 shots as Calgary Flames top Toronto Maple Leafs
Chad Johnson and the Calgary Flames didn’t show any signs of fatigue on Wednesday night.
The red-hot goaltender made 39 saves and Freddie Hamilton and Kris Versteeg scored in the opening 49 seconds as Calgary beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-0.
“Six (games) in nine nights and coming back home from New York, we were a tired club. I loved our start,” said Flames coach Glen Gulutzan. “And then when you get a goaltending performance that Johnny gives us, it gives you a chance.”
Johnson, a Calgary native, has started eight of the last 10 games, going 6-2-0 with a 1.50 goals-against average and a .951 save percentage. His three shutouts on the season — all coming over those past 16 days — are a career-best.
“When your team is playing with confidence and you know you’re going to get that save, it makes things happen for your team and you win hockey games,” said Matt Stajan, who scored the other goal.
Sidelined nine games with a broken finger, the loss of Johnny Gaudreau was supposed to be a disaster for the Flames. Instead, the team has rallied together, backstopped by Johnson.
“We said when Johnny was injured that this was a chance for us to come together and have other guys step up but solidify a good defensive base,” Gulutzan said. “Do we get away from that at times, certainly we do, but we’re coming together and learning how to play and learning how to reduce the goals against.”
The jarring opening minute for Toronto consisted of Hamilton one-timing a centring pass from Micheal Ferland past Jhonas Enroth high on the glove side for his first of the season 19 seconds in. Thirty seconds later, Versteeg buried his third of the year on a Sean Monahan rebound.
Enroth, starting for only the fourth time all season, finished with 26 saves.
“A tough start. Two, a little bit unlucky goals. I felt ready, but they beat me with the two first shots,” said Enroth. “The first goal, I didn’t get to my position and that’s on me. Maybe I was a little bit slow on the pass out and the second goal, just a bang-bang play.”
It was the first time Calgary had scored twice in the opening minute of a game since Mar. 11, 1987 against the Hartford Whalers. The last time any NHL team did that was Philadelphia against the New York Islanders on April 9, 2011.
“Their goalie’s been hot lately. He made a lot of really good saves, stood on his head,” said Toronto rookie Auston Matthews. “I thought the second and third period, we definitely played much better in terms of creating opportunities and taking control of the play more.”
Johnson had to make 14 saves in a hectic third period, including throwing up his glove to deny rookie Mitch Marner on a breakaway.
Johnson also dealt with the Leafs’ pressure against the Flames 30th-ranked penalty kill late in the second period, making five stops in the two-minute barrage to keep it 3-0.
Calgary (11-13-2), which improved to 6-3-1 in its last 10, won for just the fourth time at home (4-7-0).
Toronto (10-9-4) has split the opening two games of its Western Canada road trip, which wraps up Saturday night in Vancouver. The Leafs beat Edmonton 4-2 on Tuesday night.
Notes: Gaudreau joined the team at morning skate wearing a non-contact jersey. He has missed nine games. … The Leafs fell to 0-4-1 in the back-end of back-to-backs. … Mark Giordano played game No. 618, moving him ahead of Gary Suter and into seventh place all-time for the Flames.