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O'Reilly Returns In Loss To Phoenix

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
The Avalanche got a little healthier Monday, as Ryan O’Reilly returned to the lineup for Colorado’s contest against the Phoenix Coyotes. The center had missed the club’s past seven games after suffering a shoulder injury on Jan. 14 against the Minnesota Wild.

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During that contest, O’Reilly was on the penalty kill during the second period when he got his left skate tangled with Minnesota’s Matt Cullen and crashed hard into the boards. Play was whistled dead, and O’Reilly was eventually taken off the ice on a backboard as a precaution.

Now back and healthy, O’Reilly centered a line featuring Daniel Winnik and T.J. Galiardi on the wings against Phoenix. He logged 11:55 of ice time, delivered two hits and won seven of his 11 faceoffs.

The Clinton, Ontario native had played in each of Colorado’s 45 games prior to the injury.

O’Reilly’s recent absence marked the first time he’s missed any significant time due to injury at the NHL level. He played in 81 of Colorado’s 82 games during his rookie campaign, sitting out only a Feb. 8, 2010 game against St. Louis with a minor foot injury.

Not only did he make his return tonight, but he did so on his birthday. O’Reilly turned 20 years old on Monday, meaning the Avalanche no longer has any teenagers on its roster. Fellow second-year center Matt Duchene celebrated his 20th birthday back on Jan. 16.

Liles Hits Milestone
Defenseman John-Michael Liles reached a big milestone tonight, as he appeared in his 500th career NHL game.

He became the sixth blueliner in franchise history to reach that mark, joining Adam Foote (who played in his 961th game with the franchise tonight), Steven Finn (605), Alexei Gusarov (565), Curtis Leschyshyn (522) and Randy Moller (508).

Selected by the Avalanche with the 159th overall pick at the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, each of Liles’ 500 contests has come with Colorado. He and Foote (754) are the only two defensemen to appear in that many games with the club since it moved to Colorado.

“It goes by pretty quick,” said Liles. “To be still going at 500 and hopefully a lot more - and as part of this organization the entire time - is a pretty special feeling.”

Liles has totaled 264 points (68g/196a) through his first 500 contests, ranking him as the top-scoring rearguard in franchise history.

Odds & Ends
Defenseman Kyle Cumiskey and forwards Peter Forsberg and David Koci were healthy scratches for the Avalanche tonight…Forsberg is traveling with the team on the road trip and the Avalanche is hopeful that he will play at some point soon, but an exact date for the forward’s season debut has yet to be determined...Colorado gave up a power-play goal to Radim Vrbata midway through the third period, the first allowed by the club on the road since Dec. 11 at Washington..The Avs had killed off 21 consecutive penalties away from Pepsi Center before Vrbata’s tally.
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