CENTENNIAL, Colo.--The Colorado Avalanche held its final practice of the preseason on Friday at Family Sports Center. Most of the players took to the ice for the hour-long session, including a few recovering from injuries.
Colorado was back to near full strength in its lineup with defenseman Ian Cole and center Shane Bowers participating in the club's practice. Cole had dual hip surgery this past summer and has been undergoing rehab, while Bowers--who did not practice on Thursday's during the team's Fan Fest--is recovering from a minor injury.
Both skated before practice with the Avs on-ice performance consultant Shawn Allard. Bowers was a full participant in the team session, while Cole only partook in the first few team drills before leaving the ice in a pre-planned move.
"I know that he's progressing on his rehab, and he's having regular doctor visits just to check and see how he's doing," said Colorado head coach Jared Bednar of Cole. "He's obviously making progress because he was able to join the group today non-contact. Whenever you get a player who is coming into the mix in the group that's a positive sign, even if it's non-contact."
Another player battling from bumps and bruises is Valeri Nichushkin, who did not practice for the second day in a row. He was injured after blocking a shot with his foot in the preseason game against Vegas on Wednesday and is listed as day-to-day.
Video: Avalanche prepares for its last preseason game
In the locker room, the squad is clearly excited to wrap up its six-game preseason schedule and begin playing regular season games in less than a week's time.
"You can just see the excitement," said Colorado right wing Joonas Donskoi. "It's a fun time of year. It doesn't matter how many years you've played in the league, it's always the same feeling when the season is getting closer. Everyone is getting more focused and getting more excited, so we can't wait."
As opposed to earlier practices in training camp that split the players into two groups, there was only one session on Friday featuring 28 players. This comes as the Avs look to further narrow down their roster before opening night.
"Today felt like a regular practice getting ready for a game," said veteran left wing Gabriel Landeskog. "It's starting to get really exciting."
The Avs play at the Dallas Stars on Saturday in the final preseason contest. This will be the second time that these two teams will face off in the preseason, with Dallas winning the first meeting on Sept. 17 at Pepsi Center by a 2-1 score.
Colorado opens the regular season next Thursday, Oct. 3, as it hosts the Calgary Flames at 7 p.m.
Video: Bednar gives updates on his team after practice
Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Joonas Donskoi
Tyson Jost - Nazem Kadri - Andre Burakovsky
Mark Nieto - J.T. Compher - Jayson Megna
Matt Calvert - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Colin Wilson
A.J. Greer - Vladislav Kamenev - Shane Bowers - T.J. Tynan
Samuel Girard - Cale Makar
Nikita Zadorov - Erik Johnson
Mark Barberio - Kevin Connauton
Conor Timmins - Ryan Graves
Ian Cole* - Calle Rosen