Johnson earns first NHL shutout in Coyotes debut
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Before each game, Chad Johnson sits alone in the stands behind the net and visualizes the upcoming matchup.
The 26-year-old goalie could hardly have imagined anything better than what transpired for him and his teammates on Monday night.
Johnson, called up last week after Mike Smith was hurt, earned his first NHL shutout in his Phoenix debut and the Coyotes beat the Nashville Predators 4-0.
Johnson had 21 saves in a game dominated defensively by a Coyotes team finally playing the style that led them to the Western Conference finals a year ago. Phoenix entered the night allowing an NHL-high 20 goals in five games.
"You're taking a chance on a young guy but he stepped in and played real solid," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "Nothing fancy, just solid, and I thought our team played solid in front of him."
Johnson's twin brother and parents were watching him in an NHL game for the first time.
"I'm sure they're pretty happy," he said. "My mom might be crying a little bit."
Keith Yandle had a power-play goal and two assists and Nick Johnson a goal and one assist. Antoine Vermette and Laurie Korpikoski also scored in the Coyotes' second win in six games.
Nashville got just three shots on goal in the first period, allowing Johnson to ease into his role.
"I thought he was great," Yandle said. "He controlled the rebound. He looked calm in there. Anytime there was a rebound he grabbed it and sucked it in. He played like a guy who's been around a long time."
The Coyotes made it a lot easier with their play in front of him.
"I thought we did a good job of limiting them to one shot or one opportunity," Yandle said. "If they did get one shot, either he made the rebound or we did a good job clearing them out. A lot of credit goes to our forwards. They came down and helped us a lot. We had a tight house in front of our net."
The Predators, playing without injured Patric Honrqvist, were shut out for the second time in three games and have scored just 10 times in six games this season.
"You've got to fight to get in the interior," coach Barry Trotz said. "For the most part, Phoenix deflected the attack pretty well, but when you're getting deflected to the outside all the time you've got to fight to get in the interior. We didn't get enough interior play and therefore we didn't cause enough havoc."
"Sometimes you've got to get greasy goals," he said. "We're not willing to get greasy goals."
It was the first meeting of the season of teams that met in last season's Western Conference semifinals, a series won by Phoenix 4-1.
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