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Downie could play vs. Wild

by Rick Sadowski
DENVER -- It's possible right wing Steve Downie could be in the Colorado Avalanche lineup Tuesday night to play against the Minnesota Wild at the Pepsi Center.
Downie didn't make the trip for Sunday's 2-0 win in Minnesota after suffering a shoulder injury in Saturday's game against Pittsburgh, but he took part in Tuesday's morning skate and looked fine in shooting drills.
Downie was to be examined by a doctor Tuesday afternoon when a decision would be made on his availability. He has 2 goals and 5 assists in six games since his Feb. 21 acquisition from Tampa Bay. If Downie doesn't play, his place will be taken by Mike Connolly, who made his NHL debut Sunday.
"If he gets cleared by the team doctor, he'll be in the lineup tonight," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said. "If he's not cleared, then we'll go with Connolly. It's very good news."
Sacco also said that defenseman Ryan O'Byrne, who will miss his seventh consecutive game Tuesday with a knee injury, would take part in a full practice Wednesday and be available for Thursday’s game in Nashville.
"He's another player who has made good progress with his injury as well," Sacco said.
Matt Duchene, who was shifted from left wing to his natural position of center Sunday, will stay in the middle Tuesday night on a line with Mark Olver and Peter Mueller.
"I think we had 10 scoring chances last game," said Duchene, who has 1 goal, 1 assist and 18 shots in eight games since returning from a knee injury that kept him out of the lineup for 20 games. "The fact that our line didn't get (a goal) is a bit of a crime, but we want to keep bringing that level of hockey and put some in the net."
Jamie McGinn, playing in his third game since his Feb. 28 acquisition from San Jose, scored two first-period goals Sunday and goalie Semyon Varlamov, who will start again Tuesday night, made 30 saves for his second shutout in the past four games.
"(Minnesota) is frustrating to play against, for sure," Duchene said. "They try and slow it down and make it as slow as possible. Last game we pushed the pace pretty good and made them try and play at our speed. We didn't let them play that game they're so good at where they trap it up and slow it down. We have to have a similar effort tonight."
The Wild haven't had much success lately. Minnesota is on a four-game winless streak (0-3-1) and has been shut out in all three regulation losses. The Wild have three wins in the past 20 road games, but two of them have come against the Avalanche.
The Wild have won three of five games against the Avalanche this season and have gone 10-1-2 in the past 13 visits to Denver.
With goalie Niklas Backstrom out with a groin injury, rookie Matt Hackett will make his second start in a row. Hackett, 22, made 34 saves Sunday and owns a 2-1 record with a 0.96 goals-against average and .971 save percentage in six games.
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