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Matt Duchene may return for Avalanche on Thursday

Colorado center hoping to face Stars after missing two games with concussion

by Rick Sadowski / NHL.com Correspondent

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Five days after sustaining a concussion, Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene took part in a full contact practice Wednesday and is hopeful of playing against the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center in the opener of a three-game road trip Thursday (8:30 p.m. ET; FS-SW, ALT, NHL.TV).

"I'd love to say right now that I'm ready to go for [Thursday], and I feel really good as of right now," said Duchene, who missed the past two games and leads the Avalanche in scoring with 11 points (six goals, five assists). "We'll see what the day brings and go from there.

"It felt good [practicing]. I feel better every day. Things kind of settle in as you're healing, you feel better as the day goes on. Today I felt like I was able to be myself out there."

Avalanche coach Jared Bednar was encouraged watching Duchene skate, stickhandle and shoot pucks in traffic while on a makeshift line with left wing Andreas Martinsen and right wing Mikko Rantanen. The lines are in flux because Duchene's status will be determined Thursday and left wing Gabriel Landeskog didn't practice because he's "dinged up," Bednar said.

"Matt looked good," Bednar said. "We did some battling at the end of practice and he looked like he was working hard, getting hit, taking hits, giving hits. So now as long as he feels good later today and tomorrow, then he should be a player for us."

Video: COL@ARI: Duchene beats Domingue for second goal

 

Duchene, who scored an NHL career-high 30 goals last season, was injured in the second period Friday on a hit by Winnipeg Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba. He returned later in the period but didn't play in the third period or overtime of Colorado's 3-2 win.

"I don't think he meant to do it … but it caught me on the head, chipped a tooth, knocked a tooth loose as well and obviously it gave me a concussion," Duchene said. "I had some blurry vision, but he didn't hit me in the eye. He hit me in the chin, on my mouth and obviously did some damage to my teeth."

Duchene said the concussion was his first, and he didn't experience some of the more common symptoms, such as headaches.

"It's my first one, so I've been trying to navigate through it," he said. "It's been pretty foreign to me, but the trainers have done a good job with me trying to get back. I feel pretty good. The guys did a good job finding that I was concussed. I felt after the second period that something wasn't right, so I went and talked to our trainers. Fortunately, it wasn't a serious one by the looks of things, and I hope to get back in there soon."

Duchene skated for the first time Tuesday morning at Pepsi Center with his teammates before the Avalanche's 4-1 win against the Los Angeles Kings. He passed his baseline test in the afternoon and was given the go-ahead to practice Wednesday.

"I feel good right now, we'll see what [Wednesday] brings," he said. "I've passed the tests, but I think at this point it's just continuing to feel good. These things are weird, right? It's foreign to me because I haven't had one before. We'll just take it hour by hour, day by day, and see how things go [Wednesday]. So far, things are going well."

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