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Reply To: NHL • Friday Service Plays • 1/8/16

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Preview: Nashville at Colorado

When: 9:00 PM ET, Friday, January 8, 2016
Where: Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado

Ryan Johansen will be looked upon to ignite a struggling offense on Friday when he makes his debut with the Nashville Predators in the opener of a four-game road trip against the Colorado Avalanche. Acquired from Columbus for defenseman Seth Jones on Wednesday, Johansen recorded a career-high 71 points in 2014-15 before being benched three times this season while falling out of favor with Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella.

Johansen, who is set for a new beginning in Music City, skated on the top line with James Neal and Colin Wilson in Thursday’s practice. “First impression was awesome. For me, it was fun to jump right into things,” said the 23-year-old Johansen, who scored 59 goals in the previous two campaigns before mustering just six this season. While Nashville has recorded just seven goals during a 1-2-1 run, Colorado has won two in a row and is 8-2-2 in its last 12 to move within two points of the Predators. Semyon Varlamov made 35 saves in a 4-3 overtime win over St. Louis on Wednesday and turned aside 34 shots in the Avalanche’s 3-2 road win versus the Predators on Dec. 12.

TV: 9 p.m. ET, FSN Tennessee (Nashville), Altitude (Colorado)

ABOUT THE PREDATORS (19-14-7): Pekka Rinne was named to the All-Star Game roster on Wednesday, but he sure hasn’t looked very stellar of late. The 33-year-old Finn stopped 14-of-17 shots in a 4-1 setback to Winnipeg on Tuesday and has yielded 15 goals during his last five games (2-3-0). “Really just hope we can get something going here, especially when you go on the road and get off to a good start, it’s a huge confidence booster,” Rinne said.

ABOUT THE AVALANCHE (20-18-3):
While Varlamov has no reason to look over his shoulder, coach Patrick Roy showed he’s not too far removed from his goaltending days by putting on the pads in Thursday’s practice. OK, Roy retired in 2003, but the three-time Vezina Trophy winner and now 50-year-old opted to practice with the Stadium Series alumni game on the horizon (Feb. 26). As for current Colorado players, captain Gabriel Landeskog scored his first game-winning goal of the season versus the Blues for his third point in four games.

OVERTIME

1. Nashville, which is averaging 2.55 goals per contest, has mustered two or fewer tallies in 21 of its 40 games this season.

2. Colorado has scored 11 power-play goals in the last eight contests.

3. Predators veteran Barret Jackman was paired with fellow D Anthony Bitetto, who took the spot of Jones.

PREDICTION: Predators 4, Avalanche 2