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Duchene skates as Avalanche prepare for Game 5

by Rick Sadowski

DENVER -- Other than making some minor adjustments, the Colorado Avalanche are looking to get off to a fast start and feed off the energy of a friendly Pepsi Center crowd Saturday against the Minnesota Wild in Game 5 of the best-of-7 Western Conference First Round series (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, RDS, TSN, FS-N, ALT).

Those roster adjustments won't include the return of forward Matt Duchene, who has resumed skating with the team. The home team has won each game in the series, which is tied 2-2.

"We will just tweak things here and there," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said after the morning skate. "We're comfortable with a couple of things we're trying tonight, nothing very major."

Duchene, who hasn't played since he sustained a knee injury March 29 against the San Jose Sharks, took part in all the drills, but Roy said he won't be in the lineup. Duchene has skated and taken some shots in the past five days and might be available for Game 6 on Monday at Xcel Energy Center.

"It was his first day skating with the team," Roy said. "We'll see after how he is and I'll tell you more [Sunday]."

Even if he won't play in Game 5, Duchene's presence gives the Avalanche a bit of a psychological boost.

"It's nice to have one of our best players wearing the same color jersey as us and doing the drills and everything," forward Nathan MacKinnon said. "Everybody's very happy for him and hopefully we'll get him back pretty soon."

Wild coach Mike Yeo said he expects the Avalanche to come out hard after they were outshot 78-34 in the two games in Minnesota.

"We probably all feel good about the fact that we're 2-2, but the bottom line is we have to win a game in this building," Yeo said. "We're still playing the team that won the [Central] Division, and it's a best-of-3 series, so this game is obviously very important.

"l don't care if they make adjustments, I don't care who we're playing against, we should be ready. That doesn't mean we won't make a couple of subtle adjustments, but if we're sharp in our game in all aspects of it then we should be able to weather whatever they bring and give ourselves a chance to get to the type of game that we want to bring."

Here are the projected lineups:


Zach Parise - Mikael Granlund - Jason Pominville

Matt Moulson - Mikko Koivu - Charlie Coyle

Nino Niederreiter - Erik Haula - Justin Fontaine

Dany Heatley - Kyle Brodziak - Cody McCormick

Ryan Suter - Jonas Brodin

Marco Scandella - Jared Spurgeon

Clayton Stoner - Nate Prosser

Darcy Kuemper

Ilya Bryzgalov

Scratched: Jonathon Blum, John Curry, Mike Rupp, Stephane Veilleux

Injured: Niklas Backstrom (abdominal), Keith Ballard (groin), Josh Harding (illness), Jason Zucker (quad)

Suspended: Matt Cooke


Gabriel Landeskog - Paul Stastny - Nathan MacKinnon

Jamie McGinn - Ryan O'Reilly - PA Parenteau

Cody McLeod - Marc-Andre Cliche - Maxime Talbot

Patrick Bordeleau - Joey Hishon - Brad Malone

Jan Hejda - Erik Johnson

Nate Guenin - Ryan Wilson

Andre Benoit - Nick Holden

Semyon Varlamov

Jean-Sebastien Giguere

Scratched: Reto Berra, Paul Carey or Joey Hishon, Stefan Elliott

Injured: Tyson Barrie (knee), Matt Duchene (knee), John Mitchell (concussion) Cory Sarich (back), Alex Tanguay (hip surgery).

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