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Calvert Could Return For Game 4

Avalanche forward was hurt on Sunday against the Sharks

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab / ColoradoAvalanche.com

CENTENNIAL, Colo.--Matt Calvert took part in Wednesday's optional practice and could be back in the lineup for Game 4 of the Colorado Avalanche's second-round playoff series against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.

"First skate in two days. It's day-to-day for me right now," Calvert said following the on-ice session at Family Sports Center. "We're going to talk with the trainers and reevaluate after."

Calvert missed Tuesday's contest with an upper-body injury that he suffered in Game 2 of the best-of-seven series on Sunday. He took an open-ice hit from San Jose's Brent Burns late in the third period, a split second after passing the puck to Nathan MacKinnon, who went on to score the eventual game-winning goal into an empty net on the same sequence.

"Obviously in that position you have to make a play," Calvert recalled. "To tell you the truth, I didn't think he was going to come right through me. I just thought he was going to contest me. It's part of the game. You take hits like that, and you get back up and you reevaluate the next day and see if you're ready to go."

Video: COL@SJS, Gm2: MacKinnon scores empty-net goal

Game 3 was the first contest that Calvert missed all year in a career campaign, his first in Colorado. The Brandon, Manitoba, native recorded personal highs with 15 assists and 26 points while skating in all 82 games. It was the first time in the 29-year-old's NHL tenure that he appeared in every single regular-season outing.

Head coach Jared Bednar said Calvert's availability for Game 4 will likely be based on how he feels following Thursday's morning skate.

"We don't know yet," Bednar said. "We'll see how today goes and how tomorrow morning goes, but there is a possibility."

Colorado is down 2-1 in the series after losing 4-2 at home on Tuesday. The Avalanche rallied from a two-goal deficit after the first period, but Logan Couture's three-goal performance helped the Sharks take the advantage in the conference semifinals.

"It was tough. Obviously watching on TV is no fun when you can't help your teammates, but they worked hard and we'll go back to the drawing board," Calvert said. "We talked a little bit about it today, and we'll be better next game."

Video: Matt Calvert on returning to practice

Sven Andrighetto reentered the Avs' lineup in Calvert's absence and played on a line with Tyson Jost and Gabriel Bourque. Derick Brassard took Calvert's spot on a combo with J.T. Compher and Matt Nieto.

Calvert had a playoff career-high two assists in Game 2 versus the Sharks and leads all Avalanche forwards in average short-handed ice time at 2:27 per contest.

CLEANING UP THEIR GAME

If the Avs want to even the series on Thursday night, it will require them to clean up their puck play, according to coach Bednar.

"It was bad," Bednar said. "It was bad through the neutral zone, especially first period and early part of the second. We got better at it in the third, we got more disciplined on what we want to do and not as stubborn in the neutral zone, and things then started to turn in our direction. It's pretty obvious for us as a team after looking at the video and what we want to do. Our execution was poor and our support was poor. We just didn't make the right decisions with the puck in the neutral zone."

While Game 4 isn't a must-win per say, it is important for Colorado to go back to SAP Center tied and not facing an uphill climb. It's easier to win a best-of-three instead of being forced to win three straight.

"You don't want to go 3-1 back to San Jose," said Mikko Rantanen. "We know what we have to do to get the win, and I believe in every guy on this team and I think everybody does. It's going to be a big fight tomorrow, but we'll be ready."

Video: Mikko Rantanen on preparing for Game 4
 

PLAYERS RECALLED

Five players from the Colorado Eagles of the American Hockey League were called up on Wednesday morning and will join the Avalanche for the rest of the postseason.

Forwards A.J. Greer, Logan O'Connor and Dominic Toninato, defenseman Anton Lindholm and goaltender Pavel Francouz will be the club's so-called "Black Aces."

"See how healthy we can stay, how long the series goes," Bednar said of the possibility of having any of those players see playoff action. "A lot of variables there, but we have them there for a reason. Those guys did a nice job down in Colorado, and like every other team we're bringing up some depth."

The Eagles made it to the AHL Calder Cup Playoffs in their inaugural season in the league but lost in four games to Bakersfield Condors in the best-of-five Round 1 series. The Eagles finished the regular season in fourth place in the Pacific Division with a 36-27-5 record (77 points).

Video: Head coach Jared Bednar after an optional practice

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