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Grubauer Could Return Against Devils

Avalanche goaltender has missed the past two games with a lower-body injury

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab /

CENTENNIAL, Colo.--Goaltender Philipp Grubauer could be available for the Colorado Avalanche on Friday when the team hosts the New Jersey Devils at Pepsi Center. What isn't known is if he'll see game action.

Grubauer took part in the Avs' optional practice on Thursday at Family Sports Center, taking shots from goaltending coach Jussi Parkkila and teammates Vladislav Kamenev and Calle Rosen. It marked the fourth straight day the keeper has skated after suffering a lower-body injury late in the first period of Colorado's win at the Boston Bruins on Saturday.

Head coach Jared Bednar said that Grubauer is "probable" on Thursday afternoon.

Pavel Francouz has started the past two contests and has played in each of the last four games, a career high for the Czech netminder. He made 32 saves in a 3-1 victory versus the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday.

Grubauer, who has won his last three decisions, owns a 10-5-2 record, 2.76 goals-against average and .914 save percentage in 18 games this season.

Video: Update from Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar

The Avalanche is starting to get healthy across the board, and there was more good news on Thursday with both defensemen Erik Johnson (lower body) and Cale Makar (upper body) skating in red, non-contact jerseys before the team session.

It was the first time that Johnson had skated since testing his ailment on Nov. 26, three days after getting hurt on Nov. 23 against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Makar has now skated for three straight days after suffering his injury from a hit by Boston's Brad Marchand on Saturday. Bednar said Makar won't play against the Devils but could return on Monday when the Avalanche begins a two-game Central Division road trip at the St. Louis Blues.

"Makar skated again today, feeling better again," Bednar said. "Twenty-four hour evaluation going on every day, but he won't be a player for us tomorrow. We'll target St. Louis, and we'll just see how it goes in the next three or so days. We'll make a decision on the St. Louis game probably on Sunday."

Friday's matchup versus New Jersey is the last of a three-game homestand for Colorado, which is on a season-long (tied), eight-game point streak (7-0-1).

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