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Avalanche/Flames Notebook

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
Stoa's Surprise

Forward Ryan Stoa made a somewhat surprising return to Colorado’s lineup during Thursday’s game against the Calgary Flames, less than two weeks after undergoing an emergency appendectomy.

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It was announced on the morning of March 6 that Stoa would miss two-to-three weeks after having the procedure, so it was a bit unexpected to see the forward go through a full-contact practice on Tuesday before the Avalanche embarked on its three-game swing through Western Canada.

Nevertheless, Stoa suited up for Thursday night’s contest and skated on a line with Paul Stastny and David Jones.

After missing five games with the ailment, the forward saw 14:32 of ice time and registered two shots on goal and two hits.

The Avalanche played with 11 forwards and seven defensemen on Wednesday in Vancouver, with David Koci serving as a healthy scratch and defenseman Matt Hunwick occasionally taking a shift at forward. With Stoa back in the lineup tonight, Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco went with the more traditional 12 forwards and six blueliners, with Adam Foote sitting out after suffering an injury against the Canucks and Koci once again being a healthy scratch.

First Things First
Thursday night will likely be an evening Mark Olver will remember for quite some time.

The Avalanche rookie, playing his ninth game with the club, recorded his first NHL goal during the opening period. Olver took a nice feed from Matt Duchene and patiently waited until he was in prime scoring position before tossing a backhand attempt past Calgary netminder Miikka Kiprusoff at 7:30 of the first frame.

The Northern Michigan University product, who totaled 122 points (56g/66a) in 119 career NCAA games and was leading the AHL’s Lake Erie Monsters with 23 tallies at the time of his recall, has now registered four points (1g/3a) in nine games with the Avalanche.

Olver became the seventh player to score their first NHL goal with the Avalanche this season, joining Philippe Dupuis, Cameron Gaunce, David Liffiton, Greg Mauldin, Kevin Shattenkirk and David Van Der Gulik.

Letters Game
As previously mentioned, Avalanche captain Adam Foote sat out tonight’s game with a foot injury that he suffered while blocking a Ryan Kesler shot on Wednesday night.  Assistant captain Milan Hejduk also remains out with a shoulder injury, meaning Paul Stastny was the only player in the lineup tonight who normally wears a letter on his sweater.

In the absence of Foote and Hejduk, defensemen Erik Johnson and Ryan O’Byrne each wore an ‘A’ on their sweater.

Johnson previously served as an assistant captain last Saturday when Colorado visited Nashville, while tonight marked the first time O’Byrne has worn a letter during his Avalanche tenure.

There was some bad news injury-wise for the Avalanche, however, as Johnson left the game in the first period after blocking a Matt Stajan shot with his left leg and did not return.
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