CENTENNIAL, Colo.--Colorado Avalanche rookie forward Alexander Kerfoot was a full participant in the Avs practice on Sunday at Family Sports Center.
The center initially took the ice in a red, non-contact jersey prior to the start of the team session but quickly made the switch to a regular blue practice sweater after receiving approval from the training staff. He was also protecting his skates, and more importantly his feet, with shot blockers.
Kerfoot has missed Colorado's last three contests after accidentally getting in the way of a hard Erik Johnson shot and hurting his foot last Monday versus the Pittsburgh Penguins. He has been skating on his own since Friday.
"Once you wear [shot blockers] for a week, you don't even notice that it's on," said Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar. "I think especially for a guy like him, speaking of him specifically, he is a young guy trying to crack in the league. That hits him in the wrong spot, and he breaks his foot and he's out six weeks. Or, he could wear them and not miss any time."
Kerfoot could return to the lineup and play on Monday when the team hosts the Penguins for the second and final meeting between the clubs this campaign.
The Avs are coming off a 6-5 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday, a contest in which they gave up three 4-on-4 goals, a situation the team had not practiced much.
"We watched some video here before practice and then we had a little scrimmage 4-on-4 so it was good," forward Mikko Rantanen said of the day's session. "I think everybody is a little bit clearer now and hopefully it doesn't happen again."
Video: Mikko Rantanen chats after practice
Even though the Avs trailed the Lightning 5-1 early in the third period, Colorado struck back to make it 6-5 and had its opportunities to send the game into an extra frame with a frantice push in the final minutes.
"We answered back and showed some character in the third period. It was a great job from the guys but one goal short," said Rantanen. "I think offensively we were good, we just have to bear down a little bit more defensively. We gave three goals on 4-on-4, so that's one thing we can do better, but of course we can take some good things from the third period to the next game."
The Avs' next contest won't be an easy task as they face the two-time defending-Stanley Cup champion Penguins.
"They are well rounded--goaltending, D, four-line team," Bednar said of Pittsburgh. "We have to go out and play to our identity. I think that's what we did after it went 5-1 the other night. We gave them too much respect early. I think it was a pretty tight-checking game, and we weren't good enough 4-on-4 and that couple minute span cost us the game. But what we did after that is we got up, we got in the hunt. We were the aggressors in the game, and we got rewarded for that."
MAKAR, TIMMINS TO WEAR RED AND WHITE
Avalanche prospects Cale Makar and Conor Timmins were named to Hockey Canada's 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship roster over the weekend.
"Looking at Makar and Timmins, it is a perfect opportunity for them," Bednar said of the defensemen representing Team Canada. "It's something that they have earned. Not only through their play from last season and this season, but then again into the camp and having to go compete for those jobs. It just tells you that those guys are two of the top-ranked guys on the backend for Canada.
"We are looking forward to those guys having a real good tournament. It's a great experience for them to be able to go there and go compete in that. I think that is starting to show you that we have a little bit of depth and some young guys coming our way."
This season, Makar has nine points (one goal, eight assists) in 15 collegiate contests with the University of Massachusetts and Timmins has recorded 32 points (six goals, 26 assists) in 26 games at the major-junior level with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League.
Canada will face Russia when the tournament begins on Dec. 26 in Buffalo, New York.