NASHVILLE -- Ryan Johansen is proud of what the Nashville Predators have accomplished since he sustained a season-ending leg injury in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final on May 18.
The Predators won the next two games against the Anaheim Ducks to advance to the first Stanley Cup Final in their history. They trail the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-0 in the best-of-7 series with Game 3 at Nashville on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVA Sports).
"Watching the game, obviously I really want to be out there, just being a part of the team and stuff," Johansen said Thursday at Bridgestone Arena, where he was walking without crutches following May 19 surgery on his left leg for acute compartment syndrome.
"But kind of, which I've said to everyone that asked me that question, it's been a lot easier than I thought. The identity and the character of our team, how we're built, it's been pretty easy to watch because, I mean, these guys, every time they're on the ice, they throw everything they've got. They're not going to stop for anything.
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"As a teammate, it gives me chills right now. Those guys worked so hard for their opportunities, worked their whole lives for the opportunities, and they're making the best of it. We're in a situation down 2-0 now going into the third game. I like how they've been doing, how they've stepped up. They're not going away, like I was just touching on, which has made it easy to watch."
At the time of the injury, Johansen's 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs led the Predators.
Last Wednesday, he told TSN 1040/1410 Vancouver radio that he is expected to make a full recovery from the injury, which can cause nerve and muscle damage because of pressure decreasing blood supply.
"It's coming along," the 24-year-old center said Thursday. "It's a bit of a slow process. Been a lot of time on the couch, driving my girlfriend nuts. Yeah, but getting better each and every day."
Johansen was injured when he took a knee to the back of the leg from Ducks defenseman Josh Manson in the second period. The pain got worse as the game progressed.
"As the period went along, the third period went along, by the time I was in overtime, I could barely stand up," said Johansen, who was acquired by Nashville on Jan. 6, 2016, in a trade from the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Thought to be a charley horse, Johansen said he was told to put ice on his leg after the game.
"I threw the ice on, took it off, walked to the shower. By the time I was done showering, putting on my underwear, I could barely stand up," he said. "My leg, it just felt like it was about to explode. It kept getting worse. Obviously, you know, I had to pop over to the hospital quick. They had to open me up."