Bruins

Johnson picks up play to help lift Celtics

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Johnson picks up play to help lift Celtics

BOSTON -- On Friday night JaJuan Johnson walked off the court and was greeted by an unhappy Doc Rivers during an ugly loss to the Toronto Raptors. The rookie took all of it in and remembered it for the next game, a Sunday afternoon match up against the Chicago Bulls.

Im not really the type to get down on myself if the coach yells at you or anything like that, he told CSNNE.com prior to the Celtics 95-91 win. Youve just got to take it and learn from it, and the next time youve just got to do better. Hopefully thats the case.

It was indeed the case on Sunday. With Brandon Bass (knee) and Jermaine ONeal (shoulder) out of the lineup, Rivers turned to Johnson for major minutes. He delivered.

Johnson scored 12 points off of 6-for-13 shooting in 33 minutes, a career high in scoring, field goals made, and playing time. He also added four rebounds, two steals, a block, and an assist. The long, athletic forward was part of the Celtics fast break game too, in which they outscored the Bulls 33-7.

Rivers liked what he saw from the rookie and wants to see it on a more frequent basis. Johnson entered the afternoon averaging 3.1 points and 1.0 rebounds in 5.4 minutes per game.

Hes got to keep doing it, said Rivers. One game doesnt make a star. One season doesnt make a star. So youve just got to keep doing it and hes got to do it consistently. He will, like I keep saying. Hes a great kid and he wants to do it. Hes young and hes still learning focus and all that. But hes a good player.

Being ready on a moments notice is part of Johnsons transition to the NBA. His place in the rotation can change on any given night due to injuries and late scratches.

Over the previous three games, he played less than eight minutes in Fridays loss to the Raptors (2 points, 1 rebound), did not play in Thursdays loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, and was on the court for less than two minutes on Tuesday in a win over the Charlotte Bobcats.

He has to stay prepared all while still learning the Celtics system. Johnson keeps a consistent routine -- something he picked up from his veteran teammates -- and studies up on the playbook when hes not in the gym.

I definitely dont have the playbook down like I need to, so I try to study it quite a bit. Did a little bit today. I need to keep at it to know it like the back of my hand, he said. Its a job so at the end of the day, youve got to do whatever youve got to do to be fully prepared to go out there. Thats what I have to continue to work on.

With each game, Johnson feels more comfortable on the court. He is finding the balance between playing with his instincts and playing within the Celtics system.

I would say its about half and half, he said. Its a lot of mental stuff -- defensive assignments, knowing all the offensive plays -- but at the same time you have to let your instincts take control and just be ready to play. In a split second youve got to make a play on the ball and or block a shot.

Sundays nationally-televised performance was a confidence booster for Johnson.When he checked out of the game, he was met with a standing ovation from a handful of fans. It was a different reception than Friday night, one that he took with him into the game.

I thought about it a lot, he said of the loss to the Raptors. I think it was just one of those things where I was like, When I do get the opportunity, I have to be ready. Today I was like, Man, Ive got to play well if I do get the opportunity. I just tried to focus on the things I was good at.

Talking Points: DeBrusk provides energy in win

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Talking Points: DeBrusk provides energy in win

GOLD STAR: Jake DeBrusk gave the Bruins all kinds of energy out of the starting gate, and made a couple of plays that allowed his team to hold a lead despite getting outplayed in the opening 20 minutes. DeBrusk went hard to the net splitting a couple of San Jose defenders on the first goal, and fired a shot on net that created a rebound for Peter Cehlarik to cash in on. Then DeBrusk scored a little bit later on a rush where he beat Brent Burns in a foot race to a loose puck, then whistled a wrist shot past Aaron Dell for his fourth goal of the season. DeBrusk finished with a goal and two points along with a plus-2 and a team-high four shots on net while falling just short of 16 minutes of ice time in the victory. It was a strong effort from DeBrusk shortly after being a healthy scratch, and showed what he’s capable of when he gets his skating legs going.

BLACK EYE: Brent Burns was a complete mess for the Sharks. He was burnt by Jake DeBrusk in each of the first two Bruins goals in the first period with the B’s rookie going right at him with the attack. He also didn’t make it to the net with 12 of the 16 shots that he attempted and Burns finished with seven giveaways as well. It’s been a rough follow-up season for Burns after last year’s Norris Trophy season where he’s tried to do too much for the Sharks, and his game has suffered as a result. That seemed to be the case for Burns against the Bruins as well where his mistakes played a big role in the Sharks dropping the game.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins won the game when they managed to survive an opening 20 minutes where they were outshot 17-5, and even better they had a 2-1 lead based on some offensive fireworks from Jake DeBrusk. They were also aided by a couple of video reviews where the Bruins took a San Jose goal off the board when it was ruled that a crashing Joonas Donskoi punched a puck into the net with his glove. The Peter Cehlarik goal was also upheld at the other end after a challenge from the San Jose bench. It looked like DeBrusk was tripped before he partially crashed into Aaron Dell that set up the Cehlarik goal, and that’s clearly how the referees saw it after reviewing the play.

HONORABLE MENTION: It’s got to be Anton Khudobin, who stopped 36-of-37 shots and improved to 5-0-2 on the season with another strong win aided by a stalwart defensive effort in front of him. Khudobin now has 12 of the 20 points that the Bruins have amassed on the season, and he absolutely rewarded the B’s for opting to go with the Bruins backup for a second game in a row as they ride the hot goaltender. Khudobin was helped by a number of Bruins blocked shots in the third period when the game was still very tight, but it was also about Khudobin coming up with 16 saves in the first period when the Bruins were getting outplayed by the Sharks.

BY THE NUMBERS: 6 – the number of Bruins rookies that have scored their first NHL goals this season, including Peter Cehlarik finally getting his first NHL score Saturday night in his 14th career game.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “We need them. They’re in the lineup and they’re playing significant minutes. We need them to produce for us. Tonight we needed some offense early, and they provided it for us.” – Bruce Cassidy, on the role of the rookies in the win where it was all first-year players Peter Cehlarik, Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen doing the scoring vs. San Jose. 

Khudobin stops 36 shots to help Bruins beat Sharks, 3-1

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Khudobin stops 36 shots to help Bruins beat Sharks, 3-1

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Anton Khudobin enjoyed getting pestered with shots early. He didn't have time to let his mind wander.

Khudobin stopped 36 shots to lead the Boston Bruins to a 3-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night.

"I like it busy," Khudobin said. "I don't have to think about anything else. The third-period start was unbelievable . . . I don't think I faced a shot until halfway through the period."

Peter CehlarikJake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen scored to help the Bruins get their second straight win after a four-game skid (0-3-1). Boston had totaled nine goals in its previous five games, scoring more than two for just the second time in nine November games.

"It went our way," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. "They were clearly better than us but we come out 2-1 (in the three games on West Coast). If you stick with it, good things happen."

Khudobin remained unbeaten in regulation (5-0-2) and improved to 4-1 with a 0.99 goals-against average in five games against the Sharks.

Timo Meier scored and Aaron Dell finished with 18 saves for the Sharks, one of the lowest scoring teams in the league. San Jose has been held to two of fewer goals in five of their seven games this month.

"Guys in this room can score; we just have to do it," Sharks Logan Couture said. "I thought we had good chances and a lot of them at the end. We've got to create offense. If you don't score goals, you're not going to win."

Meier gave the Sharks, losers of two straight following wins in six of seven, a short-lived 1-0 lead after tapping in a rebound 4:50 into the game. Daniel O'Regan, making his season debut, won the puck behind the net and skated around to take the shot that bounced to Meier. It was O'Regan's first career assist and second career point.

"I just kind of fished it out and wanted to bring it to the net," O'Regan said. "Timo made a nice finish."

Cehlarik, in his 14th game, scored his first career goal about 1 1/2 minutes later to tie it for the Bruins.

Boston took the lead on DeBrusk's goal with 9:14 left in the first. Charlie McAvoy cleared a puck in his zone that DeBrusk, one of three rookies who scored, chased down and easily beat Dell 1-on-1.

"It's massive," DeBrusk said. "We all want it so bad and we all work so hard. These are big games for us."

Heinen made it 3-1 with 5:51 left in the third. Kevan Miller skated down the ice, drawing all the attention on the right side. He passed across the crease, from where Heinen tapped it in.

"He made a heck of a play," Heinen said. "I just put my stick on the ice."

The Sharks had a goal negated for the second straight game, this one two minutes in.

"We got enough looks tonight to score," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "We're doing more good than bad we're just not being rewarded."

NOTES: O'Regan was recalled before the game. He's the leading scorer for the Barracuda of the AHL. ... The Sharks have had three consecutive goals reversed after challenges dating to Thursday's game against the Florida Panthers. ... Sharks F Joel Ward has recorded points in six of his last eight games. ... DeBrusk, who assisted on Cehlarik's goal, recorded his first multi-point game since Oct. 14, a span of 14 games.

UP NEXT

Bruins: At the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night.

Sharks: Host the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night.

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