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Round 1

Rantanen will play for Avalanche against Flames in Game 1

Forward has been out since March 21 with upper-body injury

by Rick Sadowski / NHL.com Correspondent

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Mikko Rantanen will be in the lineup when the Colorado Avalanche play the Calgary Flames in Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round at Scotiabank Saddledome on Thursday (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).

The forward, who missed the final eight games of the regular season with an upper-body injury sustained against the Dallas Stars on March 21, took part in a full-contact practice Wednesday, skating to the right of left wing Colin Wilson and center Carl Soderberg.

"I feel good," Rantanen said. "I'm excited, and I guess good timing to get back, straight to the playoffs. I didn't miss too much time. I can't wait to get going.

 

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"Obviously when you get hurt, you start thinking too much, but the medical team did a good job and got me back in shape, so I'm ready to go and I can't wait for tomorrow."

Rantanen finished second on the Avalanche with 87 points, including an NHL career-high 31 goals and 56 assists, in 74 games and spent most of the season on a line with center Nathan MacKinnon (99 points; 41 goals, 58 assists) and left wing Gabriel Landeskog (75 points; 34 goals, 41 assists). Landeskog returned March 29 after missing nine games with an upper-body injury.

"He is back, he looks good," coach Jared Bednar said of Rantanen. "He's been working hard. It's a whole new level of intensity in competitiveness at playoff time, and he's well aware of that. I think he's been ramping up nicely and looks better and better, and quicker and quicker every day he's been on the ice. We'll see how he goes tomorrow in the game and adjust his ice time from there, but I expect him to play a lot, just like he normally does."

Colorado went 5-1-2 without Rantanen and clinched the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the West with a 3-2 overtime victory against the Winnipeg Jets at Pepsi Center on April 4.

"The way we finished, it was fun to watch," Rantanen said. "I would have preferred to be on the ice, but it was fun to see how the guys did it, made the push and made the playoffs. Now we're here and anything can happen."

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