SAN JOSE - It was exactly one month ago today that Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog took a crushing hit from San Jose defenseman Brad Stuart midway through the first period of a 4-0 loss to the Sharks at HP Pavilion.
And as luck would have it, tonight also marks the first time Landeskog, who missed the next 11 games with a concussion and didn't return to action until Friday against the Los Angeles Kings, will meet Stuart since that collision.
Landeskog said he's not out for revenge, but Stuart admitted he'll be ready for whatever the Avalanche send his way.
"I want to get out there and show them that I'm fine, that I can take a hit," Landeskog said after Colorado's morning skate. "Even though it was a hard hit, I don't have any grief against Brad Stuart or anything. He apologized after the hit and said he had no intention of hurting me. So no hard feelings there, but I'm excited to get out there and show them what I can do and show them that I can take that."
Just seconds after Stuart leveled Landeskog, Avalanche defenseman Ryan O'Byrne instigated a scrap with the Sharks defenseman, who was not suspended by the NHL for his hit.
"I think that score's been settled, as far as I'm concerned," Stuart said. "If they want to concern themselves with that, that's good for them. I'll be ready to play the game. We saw how that worked out for us last time."
While the Avalanche were obviously thrilled to have their captain back in the lineup, Stuart admitted to being one of the "happiest guys" in hockey when Landeskog returned to action Friday.
"I didn't like seeing the fact he wasn't playing," Stuart said. "So to see him back playing is great. Other than that, I'm just focusing on what we've got to do. But, again, I'm glad he's back playing."
Since returning, Landeskog has one assist but no goals in two games. He admits that he is still working to find his timing since coming back to the Colorado lineup.
"You start off and you're not really sure how you're going to feel, what's going to be there, what's not going to be there," Landeskog said. "I'm starting to feel a lot better. Health wise, I'm feeling great, but it's just timing and hands and the shot. Skating and stuff like that, those are things that are going to come a little more with time."
Landeskog seemed neutral when asked if the League was correct in not suspending Stuart.
"Whatever happens after hits, it's up to (Brendan) Shanahan and the League," he said. "I think for me, I can only look at myself and look at the things that I've got to do better. I've got to keep my head up and make sure I know what's going on around me and those sort of things."
Like Landeskog, the rest of the Avalanche appear to have moved on from the Stuart hit. Colorado forward Jamie McGinn, a former Shark, confirmed that the Avalanche are more concerned about getting two points than exacting revenge.
"(Landeskog's) healthy now. He's excited to be back," McGinn said. "We have to worry about winning. We can't set our mind on one thing, on that hit. There was no suspension on the play, so we can't do anything about it, so obviously it's deemed a clean hit. We worry about winning the game now. We'll let the game take care of itself."
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