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Lindholm Returns To Practice Following Injury

Defenseman returns from broken jaw, while Semyon Varlamov was out with an illness

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab /

CENTENNIAL, Colo.--Colorado Avalanche defenseman Anton Lindholm returned to practice on Tuesday, but goaltender Semyon Varlamov was absent from the team's proceedings at Family Sports Center.

Head coach Jared Bednar said Varlamov was sick but is expected to play later this week. Jonathan Bernier will get the start in net on Wednesday against the Dallas Stars.

"He hasn't been feeling great for a few days. Yesterday, he got sick. Today, he is worse," Bednar said of Varlamov. "Tomorrow, I think we'll go with Bernier. He had a really good night the other night."

Bernier was between the pipes for Colorado's 4-3 overtime win on Sunday at the Detroit Red Wings and made 21 saves, including nine in the third period to help the team pick up the comeback victory.

Video: Avs coach Jared Bednar after practice

Lindholm's skate with his teammates on Tuesday was his first since he broke his jaw on Nov. 4 at the Philadelphia Flyers. The injury forced him to miss the next two weeks and six games, including the SAP NHL Global Series in his home country. 

The Skelleftea, Sweden, native was paired on defense with Andrei Mironov during the hour-long practice and wore a jaw shield to go along with his usual visor on his helmet. Lindholm had been skating on his own in a red, non-contact jersey since the team returned from Sweden.

"Saw the doctor yesterday and got good news, so he was in a contact jersey today," Bednar said of Lindholm. "If everything goes well here over the next week or so then he could get cleared to play."

The Avalanche's forward line combinations were the same as it used over the weekend, with Gabriel Bourque taking reps on the Dominic Toninato-centered trio with Sven Andrighetto and Nail Yakupov. 

Toninato made his NHL debut on Saturday at the Nashville Predators and recorded his first point with an assist in the Avalanche's win on Sunday at Detroit.

"Obviously a lot of excitement, a lot of nerves, but tried to get those out right away in warmups in Nashville," Toninato said of his first two games in the NHL. "It was definitely a lot of fun and a cool experience. It was nice to get that first point out of the way."

Video: Toninato on joining the Avalanche 

He did experience a scary moment 8:13 into his debut versus the Predators, as he was slammed face first into the wall by Austin Watson and went to the club's dressing room to be examined. Watson received a five-minute boarding penalty, a game misconduct and received a two-game suspension from the league on Sunday.

Toninato returned to game action for the start of the second period.

"I was nervous obviously about a concussion. It's never what you want, ever. Especially in your first couple of shifts there," he said of the hit. "Luckily, I went back, passed the protocol and was able to come back."

Bednar said he liked what he saw from the rookie during the two-games-in-two-nights set.

"He takes the hit in game one, and it sets his game back a little bit. It's good to see him come out of there, kind of a scary moment," Bednar said. "Competes hard, skates hard, has good details. A big-body guy that can help you win puck battles. He's a good, defensive-minded guy. As you see, he can make some plays, too. He was in on some offensive scoring chances in both of those games."

Bednar didn't have much of an update on Colorado's other two injured skaters, forward Vladislav Kamenev and defenseman Patrik Nemeth. Kamenev recently had successful surgery to help fix his broken arm and will be out "weeks or months," according to the head coach. On Nemeth, who is out with a lower-body injury, Bednar said there is no timetable since the blueliner hasn't started skating yet.

Colorado begins a busy week on Wednesday at Pepsi Center against the Stars, the first of three games in four days. The Avalanche then travels to Minnesota for a Friday afternoon contest against the Wild before returning home for an 8 p.m. game versus the Calgary Flames on Saturday.

Dallas is playing at home against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday and will travel to Denver after the outing to complete the back-to-back set prior to the American Thanksgiving holiday.

Wednesday marks the third of five meetings between the Avs and Stars this season. Colorado and Dallas have split the first two games of the series, as both squads have picked up wins at home.

The teams will play four of their five contests by Dec. 3, and they have their last matchup set for Jan. 13.

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