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Jost Joins MacKinnon And Rantanen On Top Line

The rookie forward had a good finish against Nashville

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab / ColoradoAvalanche.com

CENTENNIAL, Colo.--Tyson Jost was plenty motivated in his return to game action on Tuesday night, and Colorado Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar noticed.

"We get into the latter part of the game yesterday, and he missed a couple games but he came back in hungry," Bednar said of Jost. "He was competing hard on pucks."

The rookie forward's drive earned him a promotion in the Avs lineup on Wednesday, as Jost practiced on one of the team's top lines with Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen at Family Sports Center. The trio will begin Thursday's contest against the St. Louis Blues with one another.

Jost had played in a bottom-six role for most of the season until he was moved up to play with MacKinnon in the third period of Colorado's 4-1 loss at the Nashville Predators. Bednar was looking to jumpstart his top group to make it more dangerous, and the Avs coach said Jost can help provide that.

"I think they enjoy playing together, and they had a little chemistry playing with Dutchy (Matt Duchene) in the third period and generated a couple good O-zone shifts," Bednar said of Jost and MacKinnon. "We were kind of having the blender going a little with the lines in the third period to try and give us a spark, and those two guys I liked together."

Video: Coach Jared Bednar discusses line changes

Jost missed Colorado's contests on Friday at home against the Anaheim Ducks and Saturday at the Dallas Stars after suffering a bone bruise on his leg in last Wednesday's outing versus the Boston Bruins. He was injured after falling feet first into the boards, but he returned to the ice later that game and even scored an empty-net goal in the third period.

It wasn't until the next morning that Jost really felt it.

"I definitely was hurt. I was pretty sore the next day. Waking up in the morning, I had a deep bone bruise," Jost said. "You couldn't really see anything on the skin with a bruise or anything like that, but on the MRI there was definitely a pretty deep bone bruise there. The doctors said it wouldn't be safe if I played. I took those two days off and healed up, and now I'm back out there."

Jost played the first two periods on Tuesday on the team's fourth line with Carl Soderberg and Blake Comeau before being moved up for the final frame. The third was the rookie's busiest as he played 6:00 of his 15:00 in the stanza.

The St. Alberta, Alberta, native said he's excited to play a more offensive role against the Blues but also cited it doesn't matter what type of position he's put into on the team. Jost notes his two-way style of play can make him effective on both sides of the puck.

"I think I'm a very adaptable player and that I can play both minutes," Jost said after practice. "I have that 200-foot game where I can play those PK minutes and kind of shutdown role, forechecking role. I can also play top six. It is something that has been in my game for a long time, 200 foot and being responsible on both sides of the puck. I wouldn't say I'm fit one way or the other, but it's obviously nice being in the top six. Everybody wants to score and create offense. So that is something I want to do."

Video: Tyson Jost talks about his new line after practice

Playing on attacking lines is something the 19-year-old has been more accustomed to in his young career. He finished second on the University of North Dakota in scoring last season with 35 points (16 goals and 19 assists) in 33 games and put up 104 points (42 goals and 62 assists) in only 48 contests in 2015-16 with the Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League.

Jost said he's looking forward to playing against the other team's top players and adding even more speed to a line that already has plenty.

"Those are two really spectacular players. MacKinnon is a world-class player and Mikko is right up there with him," Jost said. "I think my hockey sense, getting those guys the puck and getting to areas where they can make things happen. I think I can bring my down low game too, so I can grind and create some open ice for them, for sure."

The Avalanche's line shuffle on Wednesday also involved Sven Andrighetto, Alexander Kerfoot and Colin Wilson. Andrighetto, who had previously played with MacKinnon and Rantanen, joins Matt Duchene and Nail Yakupov on the second group, while Kerfoot moves to a trio with J.T. Compher and Gabriel Landeskog. Wilson will be one of four forwards that will possibly play on the fourth line, along with Comeau, Soderberg and Matt Nieto.

Video: Patrik Nemeth talks about returning to the ice

Colorado also received some fortunate news on Wednesday that the shoulder injury Patrick Nemeth suffered on Friday in Dallas doesn't appear to be as bad as earlier thought. He missed Tuesday's outing in Nashville, but Bednar said the rear guard is good to go for Thursday versus St. Louis.

"I feel alright," Nemeth said. "I felt better than what I thought, so that's a good sign."

Nemeth will return to his spot on a pairing with Tyson Barrie, a combination that has been successful early on. Barrie is tied for the Avs lead in scoring with six points (two goals and four assists) and Nemeth leads the club in plus/minus rating (plus-7).

Bednar said goaltender Jonathan Bernier will get the start for the Avs against the Blues.

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