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Avs Prepare for Preseason Home-And-Home Against Wild

Colorado opens a back-to-back set with Wild in Minnesota on Saturday

by Callie Parmele @CallieParmele / ColoradoAvalanche.com

CENTENNIAL, Colo.--With two preseason contests in the books, the Colorado Avalanche practiced at Family Sports Center on Friday ahead of a home-and-home, back-to-back set of exhibition contests with the Minnesota Wild this weekend.

The Avs will visit the Wild for a 4 p.m. MT puck drop on Saturday before both squad's head to the Mile High City for a 5 p.m. MT matchup on Sunday.

After practice, Avs head coach Jared Bednar noted that goaltender Pavel Francouz will be between the pipes for the entire contest in St. Paul on Saturday.

Francouz played his first season in North America last year with the Colorado Eagles of the American Hockey League, and he posted a 27-17-3 record, 2.67 goals-against average and .918 save percentage in 49 games. He also appeared in two games with the Avalanche throughout the course of the season and has yet to play in a preseason outing this year.

"I mean in a practice it is more controlled, the guys going at you and they can pick the spot and in a game it is a little bit different for them and for you as well because you don't really have time," Francouz said of how preseason games can help a goaltender prepare for the campaign to begin. "There are your players, there is the opposing team and everything is happening really fast, so it's a different feeling and that is why we play the exhibition games."

Bednar also noted that the lineup at Minnesota will be a mix of veterans and younger players. Colorado will announce its full game lineup on Saturday morning.

CONNAUTON A FULL PARTICIPANT

After wearing a non-contact participant jersey for all of training camp, Kevin Connauton was able to put on a regular practice sweater on Friday. The defenseman broke his cheek bone and required surgery during a captain's skate before Avs' camp began.

"It's awesome," Connauton said of being a full participant in practice. "Just working hard to get back, letting the face heal up. It was nice to be out of the red jersey, kind of get a little more involved in the drills and now just find my way into a game and go from there."

The Avs acquired the rear guard from the Arizona Coyotes on June 25. The Edmonton, Alberta, native has registered 76 points (27 goals, 49 assists) in 310 career NHL contests with the Dallas Stars, Columbus Blue Jackets and Coyotes.

"It was a long summer, a lot of time put in," Connauton said. "Then to have something like that happen a couple days before we get started, a bit of a setback, and it was unfortunate, but here we are now, we are ready to go. It's part of the job, you just got to push through it."

MORE INJURY UPDATES

After having offseason shoulder surgery, defenseman Erik Johnson was in a non-contact jersey and participated in drills throughout the entire on-ice session with the second group, but Bednar did not have an update on a timeline for him.

Nikita Zadorov, who has been out since suffering a minor lower-body injury earlier this week, skated around on his own and remains day-to-day.

"He skated a little bit today on his own but still not ready to join the group, but hopefully he is going to be able to join the group soon," Bednar said of Zadorov.

Ian Cole (hips) was once again skating on his own in a red, non-contact jersey after having surgery on both of his hips this past summer. He was joined by Colin Wilson, who is also continuing his recovery from an offseason operation.   

Not on the ice was Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, as he is day-to-day with a lower-body tweak that occured in Colorado's preseason game against Dallas on Thursday.

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