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Stastny returns to Avalanche lineup vs. Canadiens

by Arpon Basu

MONTREAL -- The Colorado Avalanche will welcome forward Paul Stastny back into the lineup Tuesday against the Montreal Canadiens.

Stastny missed four games with a back injury but was centering the second line with Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog at the morning skate.

"I feel good," Stastny said. "It's been a week now and I've felt better every day. I wouldn't put myself in jeopardy for any reason. I'm feeling good and now it's just a coach's decision."

Roy did not speak to reporters after holding a half-hour press conference Monday to discuss his first game as an NHL coach in Montreal, but an Avalanche spokesman confirmed Stastny will be in the lineup.

Stastny said his conditioning should not be overly affected after going 10 days between games.

"I skated a couple of times by myself and with these guys. I had a full practice [Monday]," he said. "It's something I'm not even thinking about out there, which is good."

The player who benefited most from Stastny's absence was center John Mitchell, who took his spot on the second line and the power play but will be relegated to his regular spot centering the third line, between Maxime Talbot and Cody McLeod.

Mitchell had three goals and two assists in the four games Stastny missed after going 11 games without a point prior to that, and he admits it's going to be a little difficult to go back to a checking role.

"If anybody tells you it's not, they'd be lying," Mitchell said. "Everyone wants to play an offensive role. I feel I can play that role and I can do those things, but they see me on this team as their third-line center and I'm fine with that. But if guys go down I know I'll have an opportunity to step in their place and try and produce."

The Canadiens will not make any lineup changes from the group that won 2-0 on the road against the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday, with the notable exception of goaltender Carey Price starting in place of Dustin Tokarski, who was sent to Hamilton of the American Hockey League a day after earning his first NHL shutout.

That means forward Rene Bourque will be a healthy scratch for a fourth straight game and defenseman Douglas Murray will sit out two straight games for the first time since Dec. 29-31, 2013.

The Canadiens are well aware the Avalanche will be a motivated bunch in trying to get a win for their coach.

"[Roy] is coming here to win," Montreal defenseman Francis Bouillon said. "He's a winner, he's passionate about hockey and it's obviously special for him to be coming back to Montreal. They're going to have a big game for sure.

"He's going to do everything he can to get those two points, but for us it's a game like any other game."

Here are the probable lineups for the Avalanche and Canadiens:


Jamie McGinn - Matt Duchene - Ryan O'Reilly

Gabriel Landeskog - Paul Stastny - Nathan MacKinnon

Cody McLeod - John Mitchell - Maxime Talbot

Patrick Bordeleau - Brad Malone - Marc-Andre Cliche

Jan Hejda - Erik Johnson

Nick Holden - Tyson Barrie

Andre Benoit - Nate Guenin

Jean-Sebastien Giguere

Semyon Varlamov

Scratched: Cory Sarich, Paul Carey, Ryan Wilson

Injured: PA Parenteau (knee), Alex Tanguay (hip)


Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Thomas Vanek

Daniel Briere - Tomas Plekanec - Brendan Gallagher

Alex Galchenyuk - Lars Eller - Brian Gionta

Travis Moen - Brandon Prust - Dale Weise

Andrei Markov - Alexei Emelin

Francis Bouillon - P.K. Subban

Jarred Tinordi - Mike Weaver

Carey Price

Peter Budaj

Scratched: Douglas Murray, Rene Bourque, George Parros, Ryan White

Injured: Josh Gorges (hand)

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