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Injured D-men Return to Full Practice

Erik Johnson and Nikita Zadorov, as well forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare were full participants

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab / ColoradoAvalanche.com

CENTENNIAL, Colo.--The Colorado Avalanche's infirmary is less crowded than it was just a few days ago.

Center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and defensemen Erik Johnson and Nikita Zadorov were full participants in Tuesday's practice at Family Sports Center after missing time during the Avs' training camp and preseason with various ailments.

Johnson's practice was his first in a regular sweater after having offseason shoulder surgery. He appears to be on target to possibly be available for opening night in nine days after progressing well with his rehab during the summer.

"I've battled through the last few months, but really excited to get back, back to myself and I'm just ready to play. Took a little extra time to make sure everything was going good, and I feel awesome now," said Johnson, who also noted that he's "glad to be back to the old E.J."

The veteran Avs blueliner had skated throughout the club's training camp and took part in his first on-ice session with the full squad on Friday, though he donned a non-contact jersey during it. He shed the no-touch jersey for Tuesday's activities and was paired with Zadorov, who also skated with the club for the first time in more than a week.

Video: Erik Johnson on being a full-participant at practice

Zadorov participated in the first three days of Avalanche training camp but had been day-to-day with a lower-body injury after tweaking something during practice on Sept. 15. He did skate on his own last Friday.

Johnson and Zadorov, who stand at 6-foot-4 and 6-foot-6, respectively, could be a defensive combination used by head coach Jared Bednar during the regular season, especially in tougher matchups.

"I think me and Z playing together will hopefully shut down other teams' top lines," said Johnson. "Be hard to play against, killing penalties and chip in offensively when we can."

Video: Nikita Zadorov on returning to practice

Bellemare returned to the practice ice after a minor lower-body injury suffered in Thursday's preseason game against the Dallas Stars. He centered a line with Matt Calvert and Jayson Megna on Tuesday.

There also appears to be good news for the Avalanche players who remain out with injury. Colin Wilson (offseason shoulder surgery/lower body) skated in a regular practice sweater prior to the first session with on-ice performance consultant Shawn Allard and was joined by Ian Cole (offseason hip surgeries), who wore a red, non-contact jersey.

GROUPINGS

Team 1

Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Joonas Donskoi
Tyson Jost - Nazem Kadri - Andre Burakovsky
Matt Nieto - J.T. Compher - Valeri Nichushkin
Matt Calvert - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Jayson Megna

Nikita Zadorov - Erik Johnson
Samuel Girard - Cale Makar
Kevin Connauton - Mark Barberio
Ryan Graves - Conor Timmins

Philipp Grubauer
Pavel Francouz

Team 2

The Avs' second group took the ice for practice about 30 minutes after the first group finished.

Head coach Jared Bednar said most of the players in the second group will play in Wednesday's preseason game at the Vegas Golden Knights.

Forwards: Shane Bowers, Sheldon Dries, A.J. Greer, Michael Joly, Vladislav Kamenev, Martin Kaut, Logan O'Connor, TJ Tynan

Defensemen: Bowen Byram, Jacob MacDonald, Dan Renouf, Calle Rosen

Goaltender: Hunter Miska

Video: Head coach Jared Bednar after practice

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