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Foligno, Johansen give Columbus memorable night

by Craig Merz / NHL.com

COLUMBUS -- It wasn't a perfect night for Columbus Blue Jackets forwards Nick Foligno and Ryan Johansen, but it was close enough for the hometown fans to enjoy Team Foligno's 25-19 win against Team Toews in the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Skills Competition at Nationwide Arena on Saturday.

Foligno missed several shots in the Skills Challenge Relay and Johansen flubbed his shootout attempts, but the capacity crowd was in a forgiving mood because of several memorable moments provided by Johansen.

He captured the hearts and votes with a Columbus-centric effort to win the Breakaway Challenge through online balloting.

On his first try, he wore an Ohio State jersey to honor its football team for winning the College Football Playoff National Championship on Jan. 12.

He certainly had the home fans in his corner and probably wrapped up the competition (which was all about style points, not whether a player actually scored) when he used Cole Vogt, the son of Blue Jackets trainer Mike Vogt, on his second attempt and let him take a shot and score against Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford.

Finally, Johansen completed his bag of tricks by using several Team Foligno players in the "Flying V" made famous in the "Mighty Ducks" movies.

"We're trying to make ourselves as open as much as possible to the fans," Foligno said. "We know how important it is that they see a different side of us. The season is so long, it's hard to get yourselves out there."

Foligno and his alternate captains chose players who built a big lead and then watched the squad led by Chicago Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews cut a 12-point deficit in half with a strong showing in the shootout.

"We had a blast," Foligno said. "The guys did awesome. I wasn't sure how it was going to go, but we got off to a great lead. They came back on those [shootouts]. I hate those breakaways, but it was a lot of fun for sure."

Nobody had more fun or creativity than Johansen.

He started his first anything-goes attempt in the Breakaway Challenge by taking several strides toward the net, stopping and then peeling off his top to reveal a No. 5 Ohio State jersey.

Fans in Columbus instantly recognized that as the number for senior quarterback Braxton Miller, who suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in August before the Buckeyes' first game.

"That OSU jersey was a no-brainer for me," Johansen said. "Obviously living here and going through that experience and them winning the championship was great. I had a jersey at home, so I figured I would put it on and have some fun with that."

He said he went to the store Saturday looking for an OU helmet to complement his outfit, but "none of them would fit my head."

Johansen's second act came to him prior to the competition.

"I was thinking of grabbing a kid out of the stands, but it would be tough," he said. "Maybe he'd be nervous or not want to do it. When I saw [Vogt's] kid whipping around the dressing room, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity.

"I thought it would be fun to put Vogt's kid out there and give him a memory he'll never forget."

The stunt was so good that Team Toews and Philadelphia Flyers forward Jakub Voracek, a former Blue Jackets player, decided to use his own prop to replicate Johansen's move; Voracek carried Calgary Flames rookie forward Johnny Gaudreau toward the goal to try a shot.

"It was awesome," Johansen said. "I should have gone and got [Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin] Byfuglien and tried to carry him down the ice. I wish I had thought of it earlier."

Finally, Johansen said his final stunt came together at the last moment.

"We thought we'd try the 'Flying V' from 'Mighty Ducks', an old-school move," Johansen said.

Foligno enjoyed every bit of the evening and said one of the highlights was when the fans gave Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber a standing ovation for winning the hardest shot competition with a speed of 108.5 miles per hour.

"I thought the fans were great," Foligno said. "They really came out and supported us and had a lot of laughs when guys were funny.

"It was great to see the support for hockey and how excited the fans were to see hockey celebrated in the city. It's been a great weekend all around."

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