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Duchene in, Stastny out for Avalanche

by Rick Sadowski / NHL.com

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene, who missed three games because of an oblique injury, is playing Wednesday against the St. Louis Blues at Pepsi Center.

Forward Paul Stastny is scratched due to back spasms.

Duchene, who leads the Avalanche in scoring with 12 goals and 20 points in 19 games, was injured Nov. 16 against the Florida Panthers.

"It's been torture," he said. "I feel like I've been out a month. I can't believe it's only been nine or 10 days. It feels like it's been a lot longer. I got better really quick and I thought I was going to be able to play on our (recent two-game) road trip and it was a whole different story. Four days went by and it stayed about the same and the last few days I've taken a good step and started to feel better. I'm really pleased with the way I am now."

Coach Patrick Roy had said he wouldn't rush Duchene back into the lineup and take a chance on him getting reinjured and being out for an even longer period. Duchene skated in non-contact drills Monday and in regular drills Tuesday.

"I have a little bit of pain left, but if I can perform at 100 percent of capacity and if I feel normal when I'm skating out there ... for a couple days there I felt like I was inside someone else's body," Duchene said. "Now I feel good again."

The Avalanche went 3-0-0 without Duchene and were in third place in the Central Division with a 17-5-0 record.

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