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Donskoi Returns to Practice as Full Participant

The forward will not return to game action on Monday

by Callie Parmele @CallieParmele / ColoradoAvalanche.com

CENTENNIAL, Colo.--Joonas Donskoi is closer to returning to game action as he traded in the red, non-contact jersey for a regular practice sweater on Sunday.

"That was fun. It always feels like the days feel long when you are not playing and especially when you are not able to participate in the team practices," said Donskoi. "This was one step forward again today, and I'm getting more excited."

Donskoi was injured on Jan. 7 at the New York Rangers after taking a high hit and had skated for the past week or so, at first on his own before he joined the rest of the group on Wednesday.

Although he was with the team at practice, the forward will not play on Monday when the Avs wrap up their five-game homestand against the Detroit Red Wings.

It is Colorado's final game before the All-Star Break and its league-mandated bye week. After the matchup, the Avs have 11 days between games as they won't play again until Feb. 1 at the Philadelphia Flyers. With the long layoff, head coach Jared Bednar said he prefers that Donskoi use the extra recovery time and wait to return until after the break.

Video: Joonas Donskoi returns to full health

"If we could have got him in two or three games here you do it, all day long," said Bednar. "Going into a 10-day break, coming off this type of injury, I just think it's better to have him rest and make sure he is 100 percent coming out of the break. It's the smart move I think."

Donskoi has 29 points (14 goals, 15 assists) through 44 games this year, and his 14 tallies have already tied his career high that he set with the San Jose Sharks in 2017-18 and 2018-19.

"One thing that we have to really consider today [is to] make sure that I am 100 percent when I get back, but like I said, I am making progress," Donskoi noted. "I am feeling a lot better, so it's not too far to get back on the ice again.

"The good thing is I have been making some progress. Today was my first day with a normal jersey on, and I was able to take some contact and stuff, so it is getting better."

MONDAY'S MATINEE

Colorado's contest versus Detroit concludes the Avs' five-game homestay at Pepsi Center and is the second of two straight afternoon outings.

The Avalanche is 2-0-2 so far on the homestand, which is tied for the longest of the season, and is coming off a 5-3 win against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday.

"We got points in four straight. I think you rewind back before we get these two wins, you are not in a great place and now you are on a bit of roll," said veteran forward Matt Calvert. "The biggest part out of that is we weren't getting the results and we were making some mistakes at key points in the game that weren't allowing us to get the results, and the last two games we found a way to get results against two good teams.

"It is something to build off of, and we want to be going strong into the break. It's always better to have a good feeling when you got 10 days off, and you know you are coming back to play every second day until the end of the season. The rest is going to be good, but one more to take care of."

The Avs will go on a five-game road trip after the break and will not have another game at Pepsi Center until Feb. 11 versus the Ottawa Senators. That contest will start their second five-game homestand that includes the Stadium Series in the middle of it.

Video: Matt Calvert on finishing strong before the break

SOME PRACTICE NOTES

In its final practice before the pause in the schedule, Colorado held a 25-minute session with a focus on special teams.

The Avalanche rearranged its power-play units to have a grouping that included forwards Nazem Kadri, Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen and defenseman Cale Makar, while the other combination featured forwards Andre Burakovsky, J.T. Compher, Tyson Jost and Valeri Nichushkin with Samuel Girard on the blue line.

"In an ideal world that is the power play that we see. All of our top guys are in their spots and them executing at a high pace," said Bednar. "Hopefully they can get that back going, I would like to see it be a little more dangerous, so would they. They are working on it a lot. They are seeing lots of video, so just a matter of execution and pace really at the end of the day."

Other than saying Donskoi will not play against Detroit, Bednar did not give any other lineup notes, so the teams starting goaltender won't be known until Monday.

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare was not on the ice for Sunday's session, as he was given a maintenance day. Colorado's next practice will be the afternoon of Jan. 30 at Family Sports Center.

Video: Avs coach Jared Bednar before last game before bye

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