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Stastny out after rough fall Wednesday vs. Hawks

by Rick Sadowski /
DENVER -- Losing a player and gaining one has been a frequent pattern for the Colorado Avalanche this season.

The Avalanche will welcome back TJ Galiardi for Friday's game against the Ottawa Senators at the Pepsi Center, but won't have leading scorer Paul Stastny, who suffered upper back and neck injuries late in the third period of Wednesday's 4-3 win in Chicago.

Galiardi, sidelined with a broken right wrist since Nov. 9, was playing left wing but could take Stastny's place at center on a line with Kevin Porter and Brandon Yip.

"It's crazy, but we're a resilient team," Galiardi said Friday morning of the injury bug that continues to curse the team.

The Avalanche have lost 151 man-games to injury and illness this season; the Senators have lost just 32 man-games.

The loss of Stastny is yet another major blow. He leads the team with 13 goals and 32 points in 31 games, and stretched his point-scoring streak to six games (4 goals, 6 assists) with an assist against the Blackhawks. He fell head-first into the boards on a check by Bryan Bickell.

"He still has a stiff neck, a stiff upper back," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said. "It's pretty tight in that area. He won't be available (Friday). It's a day-to-day thing."

The Avalanche also will be without right wing Milan Hejduk, who will sit out his fourth straight game with a groin injury.

Despite the injuries, the Avalanche have won four games in a row and are coming off a sweep of a home-and-home series with the Blackhawks. Colorado is 5-1-3 in its past nine games and 5-0-1 in the past six on home ice.

"The boys have been playing well lately," Galiardi said. "I got hit into the boards funny and my wrist got jammed. The radius (bone) broke. They did surgery and the trainers did a great job and now I'm back playing.

"Man, it's crazy, you get so frustrated. I'm really excited to get back out there. It seems like it's been forever. I just want to get back in and help make a positive impact."

Galiardi, 22, has 3 goals and 3 assists in 14 games. He plays an in-your-face style that can agitate opponents and gives the Avalanche yet one more fleet forward who plays with energy. He had 15 goals and 24 assists in 70 games as a rookie last season.

"It's always good to get a player back, especially when you won't have Paul," Sacco said. "(Galiardi) has been out for a few weeks, but his conditioning seems fine. He skates well and he's another young player that brings speed to our lineup."

After playing six of the past seven games on the road, Friday's game opens a five-game homestand; the Avs will play 15 of the next 19 games at the Pepsi Center.

"We want to make some noise at home," Sacco said.
Leclaire stays in goal for Senators -- Pascal Leclaire will start in goal for the Senators even though he played Thursday in Minnesota, where he made 23 saves in a 3-1 win against the Wild.

Leclaire has won two games in a row and three of his past four starts for Ottawa, which sits third in the Northeast Division and 10th in the Eastern Conference with 31 points.

"It was a solid game," Senators coach Cory Clouston said. "Everybody is positive and upbeat. We know it's a tough game (against Colorado). We've got to keep our energy."

Manufacturing offense remains a problem for the Senators, who have scored three goals or fewer in 18 consecutive games and have been shut out four times this season. The Senators' 74 goals are 25th in the League.

"I had a chance to watch them play (on TV)," Sacco said. "I haven't seen them play much this season. Certainly we're in a situation where they played (Thursday) night and we want to make sure we're ready to start the game on time again against these guys. They come from the Eastern Conference, where the travel is a little bit different than the West. I think that's something we have to try and take advantage of early.

"But they're a hard-working team. If you look at their stats, they don't score a lot of goals, but they're tough to play against. They don't give you a lot of space. They don't give you a lot of ice out there, especially through the neutral zone. They have some dangerous offensive players in (Jason) Spezza and (Daniel) Alfredsson, and Sergei Gonchar from the back end creates a lot of their offense."

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