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Avs could be shorthanded on D; Graves, Girard status unknown

May 1, 2021, 3:45 PM ET [1 Comments]
Rick Sadowski
Colorado Avalanche Blogger •Avalanche Insider • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Avalanche got an even bigger boost than expected Friday with the return of goalie Philipp Grubauer and forwards Mikko Rantanen and Joonas Donskoi, who had been in NHL COVID-19 protocol.

Grubauer made 21 saves, Rantanen had an empty-net goal and two assists, and Donskoi an assist in the Avalanche’s 3-0 win against San Jose at Ball Arena.

Here’s my NHL.com RECAP of Friday’s game.

Problem is, defensemen Ryan Graves and Samuel Girard left with injuries in the first and third periods, respectively, and their status for Saturday’s rematch is unknown.

Defenseman Dan Renouf has been recalled.

Here are the GAME NOTES.

The Avalanche didn’t have a morning skate and coach Jared Bednar didn’t have an update after the game.

"Obviously you don’t want to see those guys go down; we need them, they’re very key players for us," Cale Makar said. " 'G' plays an incredible amount of minutes and Graves is a super, steady guy."

They already are without defensemen Bowen Byram and Jacob MacDonald, and Erik Johnson will miss the remainder of the regular season and probably the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Graves was injured while killing a penalty early in the first period, absorbing an inadvertent elbow to the head by Sharks forward Evander Kane, who was taking a shot on goal in front of the net.

Girard slid feet first into the end boards while chasing a puck on a potential icing when Sharks forward Kevin Labanc tried to lift his stick from behind and collided with the defenseman.

Girard remained on the ice after Grubauer froze the puck at 9:38 of the third period. Nathan MacKinnon took exception to Labanc’s play, cross-checked him, and the two had a brief fight.

Both players were assessed fighting penalties and MacKinnon was given an extra two minutes for roughing.

Asked if he was OK with his best player dropping the gloves, Bednar said:

“It’s always acceptable, I just don’t want him to get hurt doing it. He goes in and sticks up for his teammate, I’ve come to expect that from him. He’s a highly competitive guy. He didn’t like the hit, I didn’t either.”

Bednar later said he didn’t think it was a hit but that Labanc used his stick in Girard’s legs “and he goes full steam into the end boards … it’s not a safe play.”

Labanc said he went in “hard on the forecheck, tried to get the puck. It happens. Got a little hit on him. Then MacKinnon came in and started sticking up for his teammate.

“MacKinnon thought I took a liberty on his guy and he just came in and stuck up for his teammate, and I have a lot of respect for that. It’s part of the game.”

Not sure of the lineup, but Devan Dubnyk might start against the team that traded him to the Avalanche on April 10.

Grubauer might not be up to playing back-to-back games after going 18 days between starts.

**********

MacKinnon and Alyssa Laabs, an associate nurse manager in the intensive care unit at UCHealth Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs, have been named the NHL West Division's Stars for April.

MacKinnon had 21 points (nine goals, 12 assists) in 13 games, breaking Joe Sakic’s franchise record for points in April. Sakic had 17 points in April 1995 while playing for the Quebec Nordiques.

Laabs has worked in critical care for seven years. She organized a "Wellness Wednesday" program for the hospital's nursing staff, providing those who still were feeling the effects of the pandemic a space to share their stories so they could confidently return to work.



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