Johnson's long wait likely to end tonight
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At least one thing did not change over the NHL's All-Star break: Goalie Brent Johnson was in his usual position at the end of the Penguins bench Tuesday when their game against the Toronto Maple Leafs began at Consol Energy Center.
Marc-Andre Fleury made his 23rd consecutive appearance -- all but two of them as a starter -- to extend the longest such streak of his career.
Johnson, though, appears to be a good candidate to get his first start since Jan. 10 when the Penguins visit Toronto tonight in a rematch.
And, while his two most recent starts have ended badly -- he allowed three goals on eight shots against the Ottawa Senators and five on 19 in a Dec. 16 game against the Senators -- Johnson said he has not been dwelling on those disappointing performances.
"Just because my last two outings didn't go so well, I'm not like, 'Oh me, oh my,' " Johnson said. "I'm not worried about it.
"If I get back in there, I obviously want to do well for my team. I want to give them a chance to win. ... I've been through this before in my career, where it's been a long stretch without playing, and, when I did play, it wasn't so good.
"But I'm quite content with my game. I feel good out there. I'm not trying to change too much, just maybe simplify it a little bit."
Johnson -- who has a 2-5-2 record, 3.47 goals-against average and .876 save percentage -- said he has, for the most part, not altered his off-day routine, which includes video work with goaltending coach Gilles Meloche and going on the ice 15 or 20 minutes early for extra work.
Fleury has started 41 of the first 51 games, and said that he did not enter the season with a particular number of regular-season appearances he hoped to make.
"I don't really set a number on it," Fleury said. "I just go one game at a time."
Coach Dan Bylsma said the Penguins entered the season intent on giving Fleury about 60 starts, and that the coaching staff has, for the most part, not deviated much from the way it divides the workload going into each month.
He also suggested that Johnson can expect to make some fairly regular appearances the balance of the regular season.
"We play a lot of games in February and a lot of games in March," he said. "And a lot of back-to-back situations where both goaltenders will get work."
The Penguins medical staff, as well as other medical people charged with treating their injured players, have received some heavy criticism from outside the organization recently for the way Sidney Crosby's injuries have been diagnosed and/or treated the past 13 months.
Defenseman Zbynek Michalek, though, offered a fairly spirited defense of the training staff and others after the game-day skate.
"I don't care what people on the outside say," he said. "We know we have great team doctors, and they do a really good job.
"They've done a really great job of taking care of me, making sure [my injuries] are evaluated well and taking care of [me]. They're great doctors.
"I don't think they did anything wrong [with Crosby], and I don't think Sid feels they did anything wrong."
The Penguins, who had just 11 forwards on their major league roster during the All-Star break, recalled right winger Colin McDonald from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for the game Tuesday.
McDonald had participated in the American Hockey League All-Star Game, where he earned an assist, Monday night in Atlantic City, and did not arrive in time for the game-day skate.
McDonald, who leads the Baby Penguins in assists (26) and points (38), did not have a point in an earlier two-game stint with the Penguins.
Evgeni Malkin came out of the All-Star break as the NHL's leading scorer and likely did not mind that the first two games back are a home-and-home series against Toronto.
Before Tuesday, he had eight goals and 29 assists in 17 career appearances against the Maple Leafs -- an average of 2.18 points per game -- and had recorded at least one point in all but one of those games.
First Published February 1, 2012 12:00 am