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Practice Report: April 9

by Ron Knabenbauer / Colorado Avalanche

CENTENNIAL, Colo. – A day after forward David Jones returned from a knee injury, the Colorado Avalanche will get another forward back from the injured reserve list as Paul Stastny will be in the lineup for Wednesday game at Anaheim.

Stastny has missed the last eight games with a foot injury, which occurred after he was hit by a puck from a slap shot during the March 24 game against Vancouver.

Tuesday’s session at South Suburban Family Sports Center was the Colorado center’s third full practice with his teammates since suffering the injury. Coach Joe Sacco said before Monday’s game against Calgary that if Stastny made it through today’s practice without any issues, that he would be on the California trip that also sees the team play in Los Angeles on Thursday night.

Stastny practiced on a line with Jamie McGinn and Brad Malone today, but he might have different linemates come puck drop on Wednesday night at Honda Center (8 p.m. MDT).

“I’m not sure who he is going to be with tomorrow night,” Sacco said. “In fact, I don’t know who anyone will be with tomorrow night. I haven’t quite decided that yet. I had some lines going today in practice, but those aren’t certainly set in stone.”

Right wing Milan Hejduk is also close to returning from his shoulder injury, which has sidelined him for the last four games.

Hejduk won’t play against the Ducks on Wednesday, but he will travel with the team and could play on Thursday against the Kings.

However not all injury news was good news as goaltender Semyon Varlamov will not make the trip after he strained his hip flexor in Monday’s pregame skate.

“We want to take caution there and make sure when he plays that he is ready to play,” Sacco said of why Varlamov isn’t on the trip.

Sacco did say he doesn’t expect Varlamov to be out for too long as he could return as early as Saturday for an afternoon home game against the Vancouver Canucks.

Replacing the Russian netminder on the trip will be Sami Aittokallio, who was recalled by the team on Tuesday from the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League.

Aittokallio (ah-toh-KAHL-ee-oh) has appeared in 26 games this season for the Monsters where he has a 14-11-2 record, a 2.89 goals-against average and a .903 save percentage.

The 20-year-old goalie form Tampere, Finland will backup Jean-Sebastien Giguere for Wednesday’s game against the Ducks and may see action the next night against the Kings.

“He may get in there on Thursday,” Sacco said of Aittokallio. “We’ll see, I haven’t decided. I’m not going to make any promises, but it may be an opportunity for him to get in there and give Jiggy a night off on back-to-back games.”

This is Aittokallio’s first call-up to the Avalanche, which means he could be making his NHL debut in the crease on Thursday.

No. 1 For Malone

Forward Brad Malone picked up his first career NHL goal on Monday night as he tipped in a Tyson Barrie slap shot from the point early in the second period against the Flames.

“[It was a] Great individual effort by Factor (Ryan O’Reilly),” Malone said. “I think he danced around three or four guys in the corner, made a pass to Tyson. Tyson put it on net and luckily it found my stick.”

The game against the Flames was the Miramichi, New Brunswick native’s fifth of season after he was recalled from Lake Erie on April 1. He had 24 points (10 goals and 14 assists) in 63 games with the Monsters this season.

Malone, drafted by the Avalanche in the fourth round (105th overall) of the 2007 Entry Draft, made his NHL debut last season and had two assists in nine games for Colorado.

He said one the biggest things he learned from his time with the Avs last year is that consistency is key.

“In this league, it has to be the same every night,” Malone said. “When you are a young guy, you have to play your best to stand out a little bit. I’m just trying to work hard, contribute in the little areas and just do the little things.”

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