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Paliotta eager for Blue Jackets debut

Defenseman replaces Jack Johnson, who is out two weeks

by Craig Merz / NHL.com Correspondent

COLUMBUS - Defenseman Michael Paliotta makes his Columbus Blue Jackets debut Saturday against the Florida Panthers.

Paliotta was called up from Lake Erie of the American Hockey League to replace defenseman Jack Johnson, who sustained an upper-body injury Thursday against the New Jersey Devils and will be out two weeks.

Coach John Tortorella is eager to see Paliotta take the ice.

"I want to watch him play and make my assessment from there," he said.

Paliotta, 22, had 21 points (seven goals) in 50 games for Lake Erie this season.

He was acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks on June 30 as part of the trade that also brought forward Brandon Saad to Columbus.

Paliotta had an assist against the Colorado Avalanche on April 11, 2015, in his lone NHL game.

"I was thinking about that a little bit," he said. "I played my first (NHL) game last year with Chicago. Hopefully, I've got most of the nerves out there and I can go out and play and play with confidence."

It helps that rookie goaltender Joonas Korpisalo is starting Saturday. He spent much of the season with Lake Erie.

"I'm comfortable with him," Paliotta said. "He's really good playing the puck. As a defenseman that helps you with breakouts. We'll be talking a lot out there and that will make things easy."

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