With less than 20 seconds to play in Pittsburgh's 3-0 win against the New York Islanders on Wednesday night, Brent Johnson appeared to be on his way to his second shutout of the season, having stopped all 20 shots he faced. Then, out of nowhere, he found himself squaring off in a fight with Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro. It was a fight in name only as it ended when Johnson dropped his fellow netminder with one punch to the jaw.
The exchange started when DiPietro had an encounter with Penguins forward Matt Cooke late in the game in a collision that sent both players crashing to the ice (DiPietro was actually penalized for interference). Johnson, apparently feeling the need to come to the defense of his teammate, skated the length of the ice (and went through a referee that tried to stop him) and engaged with DiPietro in the first fight of his NHL career.
Yeah, it was simply that kind of night for DiPietro as he not only has to face the embarrassment of getting clocked like that, he also gave up a pair of ugly goals that he would almost certainly love to have back. The scariest part of it for the Islanders and their goaltender (who is signed through the 2020-21 season) is the fact he has a history of concussion problems. Getting punched in the face -- and going down quickly as a result -- probably isn't what anybody associated with that organization wanted to see in a game that was already headed for the loss column.
Katie Strang from Newsday Tweeted after the game that DiPietro already had "one hell of a bruise on his right cheekbone."
Because Johnson did not finish the game (both goalies were given game misconducts, as well as five-minute majors for fighting) he does not get credit for the shutout, which would have been the 15th of his career. Instead, it goes in the books as a "team shutout" since Marc-Andre Fleury came off the bench to finish the game. He did not face a shot.
The Islanders have now lost nine of their past 12 games. The Penguins, meanwhile, continue to find ways to win despite being without their two best players -- Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin -- and a couple of other key role players like Mark Letestu and now Arron Asham. They've now won seven of their past eight games.