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Stastny finally healthy to play in All-Star Game

by Rick Sadowski /
DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche center Paul Stastny finally will get to play in an NHL All-Star Game when he takes the ice with the League's best this Sunday at the RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C.

The irony is Stastny was named to the roster Wednesday morning as an injury replacement, and injuries and illness cost him the chance to play in previous All-Star games.

Stastny, 25, probably would have been named to the Western Conference team in 2009, but he was recovering from a broken forearm at the time. He was named to the team in 2008, but missed the game after undergoing an emergency appendectomy.

"You always want to play in one to enjoy the opportunity and the experience, and I'm excited," Stastny said after taking part in Wednesday's morning skate at the Pepsi Center to prepare for Wednesday's game against the Phoenix Coyotes. "I was supposed to go to the mountains (during the four-day All-Star break), but I can't pass this up. Once I got the opportunity, I wanted to jump all over it."

Stastny is second on the team with 17 goals and 42 points in 47 games. He recently became the eighth player to score 100 goals with the team since it arrived in Denver.

"You always want to play in one to enjoy the opportunity and the experience, and I'm excited. I was supposed to go to the mountains (during the four-day All-Star break), but I can't pass this up. Once I got the opportunity, I wanted to jump all over it." -- Paul Stastny

Paul’s father, Peter, played in six All-Star Games during his 15-season career that ended in 1995. The Stastnys will become the eighth father-son tandem in NHL history to play in an All-Star Game.

Paul Stastny will be joined by teammates Matt Duchene and Kevin Shattenkirk. Duchene, 20, leads the Avs with 19 goals and 44 points in 49 games. Shattenkirk, 21, has 7 goals and 18 assists in 37 games. He's one of 12 rookies who will compete in Saturday's Honda SuperSkills competition.

"Me, Duchie and Shatty will all go together, so I've got a couple teammates to hang out with," Stastny said. "It'll be nice to get to know the guys that you play against and the guys that you watch in the other conference."

"No defense, all skill and creativity," he added. "It'll be fun, almost like a shinny game."

"It's deserving," said Avs coach Joe Sacco. "Paul has had a good season up to this point and it's nice to get recognized for your hard work during the course of the season. It's good for the organization, too. It's all one big family here."

Stewart still positive -- Right wing Chris Stewart said he understands why Sacco benched him for the entire third period in Monday's 4-3 win against St. Louis.

"It's crunch time and we have to start putting wins together," he said. "If I'm not going to get the job done, he'll have to turn to someone else."

Stewart played 10:34, had one shot on goal and was a minus-1. He has no goals, 2 assists and a minus-3 rating in five games after missing 21 games with a broken hand.

"You have to do the little things," said Stewart, who has 11 goals and 16 assists in 28 games this season. "You can still compete and win the 1-on-1 battles. You have to bring that intensity every shift. If you're not, it's going to happen what happened (Monday).

"The message was sent, it was clear, and I'll respond. He let me know that (Wednesday) is a fresh start and I'm going to have to work for my ice time. He demands a lot from me. I have to be a leader on this team and I need to lead by example."

Forsberg update -- Peter Forsberg took part in the Avalanche's morning skate and stayed on the ice to work out with injured center Ryan O'Reilly, defenseman Matt Hunwick and assistant coaches Steve Konowalchuk and Sylvain Lefebvre.

It was Forsberg's final workout with team until next week because team activities are prohibited until after the All-Star break. He wasn't available for interviews because it is a game day.

Forsberg, 37, is attempting a comeback after nearly three years away from playing in the NHL. He isn't under contract and plans to skate on his own and work out off the ice during the break.

Sacco said Wednesday that Forsberg would not travel with the team Monday to practice in St. Louis for Tuesday's game at the Blues. Forsberg's next practice with the Avalanche won't be until next Wednesday, after the team arrives home for next Thursday's game with Minnesota at the Pepsi Center.

"He's a competitor and he obviously wants to compete," Avalanche captain Adam Foote said. "To come back at his age and for him to come over here, I think he thinks he'll have a great chance to be successful and to compete at a high level. I don't think he would come over here if he couldn't. So it's a positive for our group. He looks good out there."

Coyotes look to rebound -- The Coyotes have lost four of their past five games, most recently a 4-3 home loss to Edmonton on Tuesday, but they own a 5-4-2 record in the second game of back-to-back situations this season.

Phoenix gave up three goals to the Oilers in the third period and lost the game with 21.3 seconds left on a goal by Dustin Penner. The Coyotes went into the game with a 19-0-2 record when leading after two periods.

The Coyotes are sixth in the Western Conference with 57 points, one more than seventh-place Colorado. A win against the Avalanche would pull Phoenix within one point of fifth-place Anaheim, which has played two more games.

"Every game seems to be huge," said Coyotes All-Star defenseman Keith Yandle, who has 1 goal and 11 assists in an eight-game point-scoring streak. "You want to go into the break on a good, high feeling that you're playing good hockey. Win and you feel good about yourself for a few days."

The Coyotes won the only previous meeting with the Avalanche this season, Jan. 6 at the Pepsi Center, when backup goalie Jason LaBarbera stopped 34 shots in a 2-0 victory.
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