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Practice Report: Feb. 27

by Ron Knabenbauer / Colorado Avalanche

CENTENNIAL, Colo. – Despite not being able to pick up the two points against the Sharks, head coach Joe Sacco said he did see some positives out of his team’s last game after practice here at Family Sports Center on Wednesday.

“There is a lot of things that I like about our game right now,” Sacco said. “An encouraging sign is our 5-on-5. I really like how we have been playing 5-on-5.”

Sacco pointed out the fact that play at even strength against the Sharks on Tuesday night was, well, pretty even with shots being 27-to-26 in favor of San Jose during 5-on-5.

He also said he liked the play of his third and fourth lines, who were both big contributors on the scoresheet.

Chuck Kobasew scored the first goal for Colorado after he tapped in a rebound from a shot by Jan Hejda to tie the game 1-1 in the first period. Mark Olver also scored off a rebound as he flipped the puck over the pads of San Jose goalie Antti Niemi with 3:16 remaining in the third period, tying the game at 2-2 and forcing overtime.

Only a handful of players participated in the optional practice, but the rest of the team was around the Avs’ practice facility doing various maintenance work in preparation for Thursday’s game against the Calgary Flames.

The Avalanche got some encouraging news before team drills as defenseman Erik Johnson was out on the ice in an orange non-contact jersey.

“E.J. went on the ice before practice by himself for about 15-20 minutes, just to get himself out there,” Sacco said of Johnson, who did not participate in the team’s group practice. “He’s exercising, he is continuing to make progress each day, so that’s a good sign.”

Johnson has missed the last seven games with a head injury.

Bordy’s First Point

Patrick Bordeleau picked up his first NHL point on Tuesday as he assisted on Kobasew’s first period goal.

“I thought I had it before, like three or four times, but they got taken away. It felt good that this one stuck with me,” Bordeleau said of his first NHL point. “I was pretty happy, but I’m not here for that (the points) but I’ll take them any day.”

Bordeleau has played in every game for Colorado this season after spending 29 games with the team’s AHL affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters earlier in the year.

Varlamov In Net

Sacco said that Semyon Varlamov would be the starting goaltender against the Flames.

Varlamov made 39 saves on Tuesday night in San Jose and has a .940 save percentage over his last three starts.

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