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Johnson Likely Out For Next Two Games

Avalanche defenseman is in concussion protocol

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab / ColoradoAvalanche.com

CENTENNIAL, Colo.--Defenseman Erik Johnson is likely to miss the Colorado Avalanche's next two games due to a concussion. 

"He's going to be out," said Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar after the club's practice on Sunday. "He's going to go through concussion protocol. He is likely not a player for us here before the (all-star) break."

Johnson is slated to miss Colorado's home games on Monday afternoon against the Nashville Predators and Wednesday night versus the Minnesota Wild. The Avs then go into a nine-day stretch without a contest for the NHL All-Star Game and the team's bye week. 

Bednar says he doesn't think the rear guard will miss more than the Avalanche's next two games and could return for the Feb. 2 matchup versus the Vancouver Canucks. 

"I'm encouraged by the way he is feeling this morning that he's not going to be (out) long term," Bednar said. "We obviously have an eight, nine-day break (coming up). So even if he misses the next two games, we're hoping he'll be back and ready to roll as soon as we come out of that break." 

Johnson only played 2:01 and three shifts on Saturday versus the Los Angeles Kings before leaving midway through the first period of the Avalanche's 7-1 victory. 

The Avs' upcoming games will be the first this season that Johnson will miss. In 48 outings, he is second among club defenders in scoring with 14 points (three goals, 11 assists) and leads the entire roster in shifts per game (26.8) while ranking third in average ice time (21:42). 

Colorado did receive some positive news on the injury front, as forward Mikko Rantanen should play against the Predators after not skating in the third period against the Kings due to a "lower-body tweak."

"Sigh of a relief for everyone, including me," Bednar said. "He is such a big part of our team, but he feels good this morning, wanted to practice. He'll be in tomorrow afternoon." 

Rantanen, who leads the team and is tied for second in the league in scoring with 73 points, said he was held out of the final 20 minutes versus L.A. as more of a precaution as the team had built a comfortable 7-0 lead at the time. 

"We had a good two periods, so no point to do anything stupid there, but everything is good for tomorrow," Rantanen said. 

REINFORCEMENTS CALLED UP 

Prior to practice, the Avalanche recalled forward Dominic Toninato and defenseman Anton Lindholm from the Colorado Eagles of the American Hockey League.

Lindholm has six assists this season for the Eagles, while Toninato has recorded 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in 30 AHL contests this year.

"Just do everything I can to help the team," Toninato said of his first call-up of the campaign to the Avalanche. "I want to work hard and do all the right things, and hopefully that leads to some points and helping the team out." 

Toninato practiced on a line with Gabriel Bourque, Sheldon Dries and Matt Nieto, while Lindholm took a few defensive drills alongside Conor Timmins. The two blueliners were the last ones to leave the ice.

TIMMINS UPDATE

Conor Timmins once again wore a red, non-contact jersey during practice, but the defenseman is starting to do more as he recovers from a concussion.

"First time he took a little bit of bump here today," Bednar said. "Positive signs that he's going to keep ramping it up over the next few days and then he'll get a break with everyone else. Hopefully when he comes back he keeps getting closer and closer to playing. I don't know if we're really that close just yet though."

Timmins has yet to play this season. He last suited up in a game during the Ontario Hockey League Playoffs last spring.

QUOTABLES

Right Wing Mikko Rantanen on building off the win vs. the Kings: "We were talking about it before the game and the day before too. We wanted to have a good start and play like we did. It hasn't been that good, so our urgency and everything has to be back and that is what it was yesterday. Now we just have to repeat it tomorrow."

Video: Avs forward Mikko Rantanen after practice

Goaltender Semyon Varlamov on playing the Predators: "Tomorrow we're going to play against a really good team. It's going to be a good challenge for us. I think we need to forget about the game we played yesterday. I mean it was huge, we played really good. What we need to do? We need to bring that confidence tomorrow from that game. If we work hard all game and stay with the game plan, we'll have success."

Video: Varlamov on the win over the Kings after practice

Center Dominic Toninato on his season with the Eagles: "I think it's been good. We have a great coaching staff up there that has done a lot for me. It's helped a lot. It's helped my game, and the players up there have done a lot as well. It's been a good first half of the year. I've learned a lot and has grown as a player."

Video: Dominic Toninato on joining the Avalanche

Head Coach Jared Bednar on the team looking to get on a winning run: "For us, we've played two really strong games in our last three, and we know how that can snowball. It starts with our focus and our effort. I thought we followed it up today with another really good practice."

Video: Jared Bednar gives injury updates after practice

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