Goalie nods: Flames stick with Johnson for a third straight start

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Interesting times in Calgary.

The Flames host the Blackhawks tonight and, for the third straight game, it’ll be Chad Johnson getting the nod ahead of No. 1 netminder Brian Elliott.

To his credit, Johnson is full value for the start. He’s posted back-to-back wins and looked sharp, stopping 47 of 48 shots for a .978 save percentage. For a Flames team looking to get things on track after a rough October, it’s something of a no-brainer.

But it’s not without controversy.

At the draft in June, GM Brad Treliving made a fairly big splash in acquiring Elliott from St. Louis, calling him “one of the best goaltenders in the league for the last number of years.” The belief was Elliot would finally solve Calgary’s longstanding goalie problem and, at the tail end of the preseason, there were reports the two sides were discussing a contract extension.

Then the regular season happened.

Elliott got off to a poor start. And though he’s had a couple of quality outings since, his overall numbers reflect that sluggish beginning — he’s 3-8-0 with a .882 save percentage, and 3.36 GAA.

This situation will be one to monitor moving forward. An important factor to consider is that both Johnson and Elliott are pending UFAs.

For Chicago, Corey Crawford starts in goal.

Elsewhere…

— After getting knocked out of an ugly 7-1 loss to Washington on Wednesday, Matt Murray is back in goal for Pittsburgh. The Isles will counter with Jaroslav Halak, who’s shouldered a heavy workload recently.

Jimmy Howard is back in for the Red Wings, who take on the Caps in Washington. He’ll be up against Braden Holtby.

— Quality matchup in Columbus, where a pair of former Vezina winners, Henrik Lundqvist and Sergei Bobrovsky, go head-to-head.

— The Habs are in the first of a back-to-back, so Al Montoya goes in Carolina (Carey Price will, presumably, start tomorrow against Toronto). The ‘Canes are going with Cam Ward fresh off a 22-save shutout against San Jose on Tuesday.

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