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Johnson eager for a starting role, even if it's not with Sabres

After getting the opportunity he long desired, Chad Johnson made the most of it. Now he needs to find out where it’ll take him.

The goaltender stepped up in Robin Lehner’s absence, finishing tied for 12th in the NHL in save percentage at .920. He went 22-16-4 for the Sabres in 45 appearances, just one fewer than the previous two seasons combined.

“I always believed I could be relied upon to be a starting goaltender,” Johnson said Sunday. “It was proving that to myself and the media and to everybody.”

By proving it, he may be forced to move on from the team that gave him the chance. Lehner is still the No. 1 guy, a role Johnson wants.

“If it comes down to having to go somewhere else to get an opportunity to be the starter, then it comes down to that,” the 29-year-old said in First Niagara Center. “It’s just part of the game, but I do love it here. Throughout the summer I’ll be able to go through different possibilities.

“I think I could come into a lot of teams and improve the goalie situations. I think every player has that confidence that they can be a factor, and I think I could help a lot of teams.”

He certainly helped the Sabres, so much so that his teammates voted him Unsung Hero.

“It meant everything to me really,” Johnson said. “It’s a huge, huge honor to have your own teammates vote for you. It’s tough not being able to know if I’m going to be back here just because I feel great about the group of guys.”

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