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MacKinnon out for Avalanche visiting Oilers

Colorado forward sustained knee injury Friday; Landeskog to return from suspension

by Derek Van Diest / NHL.com Correspondent

AVALANCHE (37-31-4) at OILERS (29-38-7)

TV: 9:30 p.m. ET; ALT, SN1, NHL.TV

EDMONTON -- Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog will return to the lineup against the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place on Sunday after serving a three-games suspension.

Landeskog was suspended for a crosscheck on Anaheim Ducks defenseman Simon Despres in a 3-0 victory on March 9.

"I'm really excited to get back," Landeskog said. "At this time of year, it's really tough watching. It's tough to not be able to affect the outcome of a game. But the guys did a great job and they took care of business. I'm excited to be back into it, and hopefully, I'll be able to shake off the rust early."

Colorado won two of three games (2-1-0) without Landeskog. The Avalanche hold the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference, one point ahead of the Minnesota Wild, who play the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday.

"I think our players deserve a lot of credit," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "[Landeskog] is our leader and playing without him and finding a way to win two of three games shows that we have a team with a lot of character."

Landeskog's return will help fill the void left by center Nathan MacKinnon, who sustained a knee injury in a 4-3 shootout win against the Calgary Flames on Friday.

Roy said MacKinnon would be further evaluated when they return to Colorado to determine the extent of the injury.

"Sometime this week, he's going to meet with our team doctors," Roy said. "From there, we'll have a better idea."

Backup goaltender Calvin Pickard will start for the Avalanche ahead of Semyon Varlamov. Pickard made 27 saves in a 3-2 win against the Oilers on Feb. 20.

"He's been good for us down the stretch and the last time he played here, he played really well," Roy said. "When it was a bit tougher for [Varlamov] he was there for us and he deserves a chance to play."

Goaltender Laurent Brossoit will start for the Oilers in place of Cam Talbot, who made 40 saves in a 2-0 win against the Vancouver Canucks on Friday.

Brossoit has made one start this season and is 0-2-1; he's seeking his first NHL win.

"I'm feeling pretty good," Brossoit said. "With my games, I've had some good ones and then the last ones were what they were [3-2 loss against Nashville Predators, 6-3 loss at Columbus Blue Jackets] and I'm just going to try and take the positives out of all of them."

Edmonton will miss the playoffs for the 10th consecutive season but are trying to end the year on a strong note.

"I know everyone in here is not happy about not making the playoffs again," forward Zack Kassian said. "If we don't have a chance to win the Stanley Cup, we want to knock out every team that wants to win the Cup. So it gives us motivation in here. When you're looking for things to play for, that's obviously one thing that stands out. If we're not making the playoffs, we're going to try and take as many teams down with us as we can."

Here are the projected lineups:

AVALANCHE

Gabriel Landeskog - John Mitchell - Jarome Iginla

Mikkel Boedker - Mikhail Grigorenko - Blake Comeau

Shawn Matthias - Carl Soderberg - Andreas Martinsen

Cody McLeod - Mikko Rantanen - Jack Skille

Francois Beauchemin - Erik Johnson

Nick Holden - Tyson Barrie

Chris Bigras - Andrew Bodnarchuk

Calvin Pickard

Semyon Varlamov

Injured: Matt Duchene (knee), Brad Stuart (back), Jesse Winchester (head), Nathan MacKinnon (knee), Eric Gelinas (elbow).

Scratched: Zach Redmond

OILERS

Patrick Maroon - Connor McDavid - Jordan Eberle

Taylor Hall - Leon Draisaitl - Iiro Pakarinen

Lauri Korpikoski - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Nail Yakupov

Matt Hendricks - Mark Letestu - Zack Kassian 

Andrej Sekera - Mark Fayne

Griffin Reinhart - Adam Clendening

Darnell Nurse - Jordan Oesterle  

Laurent Brossoit

Cam Talbot

Injured: Oscar Klefbom (foot), Andrew Ference (hip), Brandon Davidson (knee), Benoit Pouliot (shoulder), Eric Gryba (knee), Adam Pardy (undisclosed).

Scratched: Luke Gazdic, Anton Lander, Adam Cracknell, Nikita Nikitin

Status report: Rantanen was recalled from San Antonio of the American Hockey League on Saturday and will play his seventh game for Colorado. … Talbot who had his third shutout of the season Friday, will backup Brossoit as per the goaltending schedule Oilers coach Todd McLellan put in place for the remainder of the season.

Who's hot: Boedker has two goals and an assist in his past two games. … Johnson has two goals in his past three games. … McDavid has a goal and four assists in his past five games. … Eberle has two goals in his past three games. ... Iginla has 38 goals and 89 points in 96 career games against the Oilers. Friday is his final game at Rexall Place. The Oilers are moving into a new arena next season.

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