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Johansen a winner in home debut with Predators

by Robby Stanley

NASHVILLE -- Center Ryan Johansen's home debut with the Nashville Predators was a success.

Johansen had an assist in 18:04 of ice time Saturday in Nashville's 3-0 win against the Minnesota Wild at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday.

Johansen was traded from the Columbus Blue Jackets on Jan. 6 and had six points (two goals, four assists) in his first four games with the Predators; however, the Predators went 0-3-1 on a four-game road trip.

Johansen, who's been centering a line with rookie Kevin Fiala on left wing and James Neal on right wing, said he was relieved to be on the winning side for the first time as a member of the Predators.

"It was unbelievable," Johansen said. "The first couple of periods, I don't know if it was nerves or we couldn't really get it going as a line, but I thought our third period was really strong. Against a good team like that that's going to keep throwing everything at us, I was happy with the way we played and closed out that win. It's good to get the first one under the belt now, and I can't wait to just get back out there in a couple days."

Johansen was in the starting lineup Saturday and got a big cheer when his name was announced. He is excited for what the future holds in Nashville.

"That was really cool," Johansen said of the reception he received from the sellout crowd. "I have a great opportunity here to come into a great hockey team who's in a pretty good position right now in the playoff hunt. It's all about winning. My first impression of all of the guys and just the people in the organization and a place for my family to come, it seems like there's no better place to win a championship. Just excited for the future."

Nashville defenseman Roman Josi scored a power-play goal 6:14 into the third period for a 2-0 lead on which Johansen had the primary assist. Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk stopped Johansen's shot, but Josi scored on the rebound.

Johansen has brought instant production to Nashville's top power-play unit; he usually sets up on the half-wall. He scored his first goal as a member of the Predators on the power play from that spot, and was able to contribute again on the power play against Minnesota.

"I think there are so many skilled guys on the unit, and we all bring something different to the table," Johansen said. "Obviously we know [Shea Weber] has the big shot, but he's got the poise and playmaking ability as well. Josi can obviously put the puck in the net, and he's capable of making great passes, and then [James Neal] obviously is a threat there in the middle of the ice with his shot. [Mike Ribeiro] is one of the better playmakers in this League, and with his poise and stuff he can create a lot.

"I think we're just kind of feeding off of each other and supporting one another out there on the power play. As long as you're outworking them and really working on your retrievals when shots go in the corners and stuff and win those battles, things will open up. When we get chances, we've got good enough skill on that unit to make them pay."

The Predators host the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday in their final home game before the All-Star break.

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