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Projected Lineup: Avalanche at Panthers

Nathan MacKinnon in questionable to play

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab /

SUNRISE, Fla.--Forward Nathan MacKinnon is a game-time decision for the Colorado Avalanche's matchup this evening against the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center.

MacKinnon didn't take part in today's morning skate after he hurt his leg from a hit by Patric Hornqvist in the first period of the Avs' game on Wednesday at the Pittsburgh Penguin.

"His leg is pretty sore, he got hit the other night by Hornqvist," said Colorado head coach Jared Bednar. "I give him a lot of credit. I know he was hurting on the bench the whole game, but he battled through and ended up getting us a big goal in the third period, has a good third period for us, but is questionable for us (tonight)."

If MacKinnon doesn't play, Bednar said Nazem Kadri will slot into the top center spot between Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen while J.T. Compher will move up to lead a line with wingers Andre Burakovsky and Joonas Donskoi.

Bednar will definitely make one change to his lineup, as Nikita Zadorov returns to game action after being a healthy scratch on Wednesday. Mark Barberio will sit against the Panthers.

Philipp Grubauer was the first goaltender off the ice and is expected to get the start for the Avalanche. He has a 4-0-1 record, 2.57 goals-against average and .922 save percentage in five games this season.

Tonight's contest is the first of 12 back-to-backs this season for Colorado, which plays at the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. Bednar said "there is a good possibility" that backup goalie Pavel Francouz starts in the second half of the consecutive-night set.

Below is the Avalanche's projected lineup, with the forward combinations based on the alignment from Wednesday's contest. They are subject to change.

92 Gabriel Landeskog - 29 Nathan MacKinnon* - 96 Mikko Rantanen
95 Andre Burakovsky - 91 Nazem Kadri - 72 Joonas Donskoi
22 Colin Wilson - 17 Tyson Jost - 37 J.T. Compher
83 Matt Nieto - 41 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - 11 Matt Calvert

49 Samuel Girard - 6 Erik Johnson
16 Nikita Zadorov - 8 Cale Makar
27 Ryan Graves - 28 Ian Cole

31 Philipp Grubauer
39 Pavel Francouz

Scratches: Mark Barberio, Vladislav Kamenev, Valeri Nichushkin

* - Game-Time Decision

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