Lineup al­tered to ease Nemeth back onto ice

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Mike Cham­bers Mike Cham­bers: mcham­[email protected]­ver­ or @mikecham­bers

TAMPA, FLA.» Pa­trik Nemeth re­turned from a 12-game in­jury ab­sence and served as one of the Avalanche’s seven de­fense­men Thurs­day against the Tampa Bay Light­ning at Amalie Arena.

Colorado, which was be­gin­ning a four-game trip against the NHL’s best team, went with an ex­tra de­fense­man and one less for­ward, partly to ease Nemeth back into the lineup. His back in­jury re­quired a pa­tient re­cov­ery and he only re­sumed skat­ing last week.

The ex­tra scratched for­ward was Nail Yakupov, the odd-man out for the first time this sea­son.

“I think we need him in the lineup,” Avs coach Jared Bed­nar said of Nemeth af­ter Thurs­day’s morn­ing skate. “We need some heav­i­ness, some ex­pe­ri­ence, down there. (Tampa Bay is) a real quick team, kind of puts you un­der pres­sure. We’ve had some guys back there that have been in and out of their game. We bet­ter make sure we’ve got at least six guys go­ing tonight, so that’s one of the rea­sons why we’re play­ing with seven.”

Nemeth, 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, suf­fered his back in­jury Nov. 5 at the New York Is­lan­ders. He was play­ing about 19 min­utes a game on Colorado’s sec­ond pair­ing since he was ac­quired in the pre­sea­son off waivers from the Dal­las Stars.

“I feel good,” Nemeth said. “We de­cided to make sure it heals 100 per­cent (rather) than just go in and out, not feel­ing great one day, and then the next day I feel bet­ter. And it goes back and forth. We just de­cided to shut it down and make sure it heals prop­erly.”

Foot­notes. In ad­di­tion to Yakupov, for­ward Gabriel Bourque and de­fense­man Dun­can Siemens were healthy scratches. … Former Avalanche goalie Peter Bu­daj made a rare start for the Light­ning. Bu­daj, 35, played in just four of the pre­vi­ous 27 games be­hind reg­u­lar starter An­drei Vasilevskiy. … Avs de­fense­man Mark Bar­be­rio went from be­ing scratched last game to play­ing a team-high 8:35 in the first pe­riod. Rookie Sam Gi­rard was lim­ited to 3:14 in the first 20 min­utes, low­est among the seven de­fense­men. … The Avs will prac­tice Fri­day in Sun­rise, Fla., and play the Pan­thers on Satur­day night. The four-game trip re­sumes Mon­day at Pitts­burgh and ends Tues­day in Washington.

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