Chad Johnson has poor numbers this season. ©2017, Hickling Images, Olean Times Herald

Sabres goalie Chad Johnson positive through rough stretch

BUFFALO – To Chad Johnson, his weak numbers are deceiving. Other than a poor 20-minute outing, the Sabres goalie believes he has played well this season.

Naturally, Johnson is frustrated. In 12 games, he is 1-5-3 with a ghastly 3.76 goals-against average and an .880 save percentage, his lone win coming Oct. 15.

Among goalies with 10 or more appearances this season, only Vegas Golden Knights rookie Maxime Lagace has a higher goals-against average and a lower save percentage.

Still, Johnson, who has received little goal support, said he feels fine.

“Pucks don’t bounce your way and games just don’t go your way, and for me, it seems like there’s been more of those than not,” he prior to Tuesday’s 3-0 loss to the Boston Bruins inside KeyBank Center.

Other than a weak goal former teammate Tyler Ennis scored Nov. 22, a contest Johnson allowed three early goals before getting pulled, he wouldn’t change too much.

“I’m looking at situations where I’m not like, ‘How would I do (it) different, how would I play it differently?’” he said. “A lot of times you play the same thing, you just try to make a big save. It’s easy after the fact to say, ‘Oh, you should’ve done this, you should’ve put your glove here.’”

He added: “I know my abilities and I’m confident in my abilities.”

Johnson’s recent body of work is strong. A year ago at this time, he was coming off a torrid 11-2-0 stretch with the Calgary Flames. During his first run here in 2015-16, he morphed into the Sabres’ unsung hero, posting terrific numbers – 22-16-4, 2.36 and .920 – in 45 games.

This year, however, has been tough.

“I don’t know what to say, I got to start going to hockey church or something like that,” Johnson joked.

The affable Johnson, who always seems to be smiling, said “it takes a lot of work” to remain positive these days.

“I’m definitely a guy that can get frustrated pretty easily,” said Johnson, who made 29 saves in Friday’s 5-4 overtime loss to Carolina subbing for Robin Lehner. “I’m an extremely competitive guy. …

“Sometimes it’s good just watching other hockey games, watching other goalies play and … sometimes they’re playing bad games and they’re winning. Sometimes goalies play good games and they’re losing.”

In difficult times, Johnson leans on his family, including his fraternal twin brother, Curtis, and Sabres goalie coach Andrew Allen.

Johnson trusts Allen, whose presence helped lure him back to Buffalo on a one-year deal.

“Watching other games, watching other goalies, having Andrew here watching video tape, going over goals, talking with him, especially just to keep me positive about where my game is at, is key for myself,” Johnson said.

During a recent video session, Allen jokingly told Johnson to “change your game, play completely different.”

“Because at the end of the day,” Johnson said, “it’s like, don’t do anything different.”

The Sabres made one lineup change up front Tuesday, inserting center Jacob Josefson, who missed 24 of the previous 27 games with an ankle injury.

Housley said Josefson “solidifies us down the middle.” The Swede centered Jordan Nolan and Evan Rodrigues against the Bruins.

To make room for Josefson, winger Scott Wilson was scratched. The Sabres are 2-1-3 with Wilson, who was acquired from Detroit on Dec. 4, in the lineup.

“It’s just where we’re at,” Housley said. “We’re getting healthy right now, we got to make decisions and get some fresh guys back in the lineup. Things can change. I hope we don’t have to make any changes.”

Housley said winger Hudson Fasching, who was returned to the Rochester Americans on Monday, tailed off after starting his five-game recall strongly.

“He brought a big spark to our team versus Colorado (Dec. 5),” Housley said. “I think he lost a little bit of that in the speed and tenaciousness on the forecheck. All the things that we said to him were more positive, just continue to work on your game and get back up here.”

Notes: The Sabres also scratched defensemen Justin Falk and Josh Gorges (both healthy). … The Amerks have signed defenseman Stuart Percy to an AHL contract for the rest of the season. Percy, 24, has three goals and 17 points in 23 games this season. He signed a pro tryout in October. The Toronto Maple Leafs drafted him 25th overall in 2011.

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