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Donskoi, Landeskog Rest Up For Coyotes

Avalanche faces goaltender decision

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab / ColoradoAvalanche.com

CENTENNIAL, Colo.--The Colorado Avalanche was without two of its top forwards at Friday's practice, but both Joonas Donskoi and Gabriel Landeskog are expected to be in the lineup on Saturday when the club faces the Arizona Coyotes.

The two Scandinavian wings were given maintenance days by head coach Jared Bednar and stayed off the ice at Family Sports Center.

"Both guys are nursing minor injuries here, so just give them the day off and make sure they're ready to go for tomorrow," Bednar said following the 30-minute session that was sandwiched between the last two contests of a four-game homestand to open the 2019-20 campaign.

However, a player that did take the ice for the first time in nearly a week was forward J.T. Compher, who missed Thursday's 4-2 win against the Boston Bruins with a lower-body injury. It was Compher's first skate since playing in last Saturday's victory against the Minnesota Wild.

Bednar said he was still working on his lineup for the Avs' fourth game of the season and noted that Compher's return to the action will depend on how he feels following morning skate. The forward practiced in Donskoi's spot on a line with Nazem Kadri and Andre Burakovsky.

Video: Avs coach Jared Bednar gives an update on the team

One player that Bednar said is likely to suit up against the Coyotes is forward Colin Wilson, who made his debut on Thursday. Wilson replaced Landeskog on a trio with Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen at practice after playing with Tyson Jost and Matt Nieto versus the Bruins.

Wilson didn't play in the first two games of the season as he was still trying to get back up to speed following offseason shoulder surgery and a lower-body ailment during training camp.

The Avalanche has won each of its first three outings of the four-game homestand, which is the team's longest homestay to begin a season in franchise history. Dating back to the end of last year, Colorado has won nine straight regular-season contests at Pepsi Center.

GOALIE SWITCH?

While Bednar is still finalizing his exact lineup, the coach did note he might make a switch in net for Saturday's homestand finale.

Goaltender Philipp Grubauer has played each of the three games this season, but Bednar says he wants to get backup Pavel Francouz some action in before the team heads out for its first road trip of the season.

The problem for Bednar is that Grubauer has played three solid games and is coming off his best one yet in which he made 39 saves against the runner-up club in last season's Stanley Cup Final.

"It is a tough decision going into tomorrow's game, but we don't want Frankie sitting too long either," Bednar said. "We've got a lot of back-to-backs coming up, and I don't really want him sitting around for three weeks before he plays."

Francouz appeared in two games in relief last season for the Avalanche, but his next start will be his first in the NHL. The Czech netminder joined Colorado in summer 2018 and played most of last year with the American Hockey League's Colorado Eagles before re-signing with the Avs in the offseason.

PRACTICE COMBINATIONS

Forwards
22 Colin Wilson - 29 Nathan MacKinnon - 96 Mikko Rantanen
95 Andre Burakovsky - 91 Nazem Kadri - 37 J.T. Compher
83 Matt Nieto - 17 Tyson Jost - 13 Valeri Nichushkin
81 Vladislav Kamenev - 41 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - 11 Matt Calvert

Defensemen
49 Samuel Girard - 6 Erik Johnson
16 Nikita Zadorov - 8 Cale Makar
27 Ryan Graves - 44 Mark Barberio
28 Ian Cole - 7 Kevin Connauton

Goaltenders
31 Philipp Grubauer
39 Pavel Francouz

Did Not Practice: Joonas Donskoi, Gabriel Landeskog

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