Nathan MacKinnon will be back in the lineup for the Colorado Avalanche's matchup against the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena this evening.
The center has missed the team's past two games with a minor lower-body injury, but head coach Jared Bednar said after morning skate that MacKinnon will play. He'll likely return to his spot on a line with Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen.
MacKinnon leads the Avalanche in scoring and ranks sixth overall in the NHL with 65 points, registering 20 goals and 45 assists in 47 games.
Goaltender Philipp Grubauer is expected to start in net for Colorado, which is playing Vegas for the final time this season. Grubauer owns a 3-2-1 record, 2.00 goals-against average and .926 save percentage in six contests against the Knights this year.
The Avalanche trails the Golden Knights by four points for first place in the West Division but has one game in hand. Colorado has three games remaining this season and the most-direct way for it to clinch the top spot is for the squad to win out. Vegas can secure the No. 1 seed in the West and the Presidents' Trophy with a victory.
Forward Carl Soderberg is probable to play tonight after not suiting up in the Avs' previous outing on Saturday at the Los Angeles Kings. Bednar said that he gave Soderberg that game off to give him rest with the back-to-back situation and due to some "low-back tightness."
Below is the Avalanche's projected lineup based on the forward combinations and defensive pairings from the last game that MacKinnon played on May 5 at the San Jose Sharks. They are subject to change.
92 Gabriel Landeskog - 29 Nathan MacKinnon - 96 Mikko Rantanen
13 Valeri Nichushkin - 17 Tyson Jost - 72 Joonas Donskoi
91 Nazem Kadri - 18 Alex Newhook - 95 Andre Burakovsky
34 Carl Soderberg - 41 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - 37 J.T. Compher
7 Devon Toews - 8 Cale Makar
27 Ryan Graves - 22 Conor Timmins
26 Jacob MacDonald - 24 Patrik Nemeth
31 Philipp Grubauer
35 Jonas Johansson
Scratches: Liam O'Brien, Jayson Megna, Kiefer Sherwood
Taxi Squad: Kyle Burroughs, Dennis Gilbert, Hunter Miska, Sampo Ranta, Dan Renouf, T.J. Tynan
Injury Report: Bowen Byram (upper body), Matt Calvert (upper body), Devan Dubnyk (COVID protocol), Pavel Francouz (lower body), Samuel Girard (lower body), Erik Johnson (upper body), Logan O'Connor (lower body), Brandon Saad (lower body)