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Jonas Johansson starts in goal for Avs tonight; Landeskog back

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There are 15 sites now as part of the National Hockey Now network, so please enjoy the lyrical word stylings of my buddy George Richards, who has covered the Florida Panthers for a long time and currently does for Florida Hockey Now. He was at the Avs skate this morning on the scene and filed this report. I couldn’t make this road trip, but will be back on the road in St. Louis next week (and thank you for your Avs Travel Tip Jar donations that help make travel easier to accomplish). – AD

SUNRISE, FLA. – The Avalanche had a fiery morning skate on Thursday with Colorado coach Jared Bednar saying his team was in good spirits despite losing its past two games.

The Avs, coming off a 6-3 loss in Washington on Tuesday, were able to cool their heels a little bit on Fort Lauderdale beach Wednesday before getting back after it Thursday.

The Avs face the Florida Panthers at the recently renamed FLA Live Arena at 5 p.m.

“Hopefully that carries over into the game tonight,” Bednar said of his team’s spirit in the morning skate.

“When we discussed the Washington game, they did not like it at all — for a lot of reasons. We know we have to be better in a lot of different areas. It starts with me because our skating and competitiveness just wasn’t at the level where it needed to be.”

The return of Gabriel Landeskog after a two-game suspension for a boarding infraction against Kirby Dach in the season-opener against Chicago certainly helped the mood as well.

It looked like the Avs missed their captain.

“The guys are excited to get Gabe back in the lineup,” Bednar said. “It’ll give some of the structure we thought we would have coming into the season back together with our lineup.

“This is a good opportunity against a real good team here in Florida. We have to come back and rebound after the last game.”

Landeskog, back up on the top line with Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen, said he would save his comments on the suspension “for another day” but did add he was “excited” to be back with his teammates after his forced absence.

“You never like to be outside the lineup, whatever it is for,” he said. “We’ve got another level to get to as a team. I’m excited to play and feel like I have worked on my game, felt good about my first game of the season. …

“There’s a lot of things we can get better at as a team. As a group, we just haven’t found the level of play that we need to be at. We end up playing from behind quite a bit and that’s something we have to correct.”

The addition of Landeskog isn’t the only lineup change for the Avs as Jonas Johansson gets his first start of the season.

The Avs have already met a formidable eastern test Tuesday against the Capitals.

The road trip concludes with games against Florida and Tampa Bay, two teams considered among the best in the Eastern Conference.

“We know how good the Panthers are,” Landeskog said. “They’re going to be a top team in the east, they were last year as well. They are a highly potent offensive team.

“It’s going to be a fun test. This is a good test for our group, especially this early on in the year. I’m a fan of going on the road early in the season, especially with some young guys.”

The line on this game at SuperBook Colorado: Avs are +115 on the moneyline, so they are the underdogs. Florida is -125.

PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS LINEUP

23 Carter Verhaeghe // 16 Sasha Barkov // 10 Anthony Duclair

11 Jonathan Huberdeau // 9 Sam Bennett // 74 Owen Tippett

70 Patric Hornqvist // 15 Anton Lundell // 13 Sam Reinhart

77 Frank Vatrano // 27 Eetu Luostarinen // 17 Mason Marchment

52 MacKenzie Weegar // 5 Aaron Ekblad

42 Gus Forsling // 7 Radko Gudas

44 Kevin Connauton  // 62 Brandon Montour

72 Sergei Bobrovsky

30 Spencer Knight

Scratched: Joe Thornton, Ryan Lomberg, Chase Priskie

Injured: Noel Acciari, Markus Nutivaara, Olli Juolevi

PROJECTED COLORADO AVALANCHE LINEUP

92 Gabriel Landeskog // 29 Nathan MacKinnon // 96 Mikko Rantanen

95 Andre Burakovsky // 91 Nazem Kadri // 11 Mikhail Maltsev

75 Sampo Ranta // 37 JT Compher // 61 Martin Kaut

43 Darren Helm // 17 Tyson Jost // 25 Logan O’Connor

49 Samuel Girard // 8 Cale Makar

4 Bowen Byram // 6 Erik Johnson

3 Jack Johnson // 28 Ryan Murray

31 Jonas Johansson

35 Darcy Kuemper

Injured: Devon Toews, Valeri Nichushkin, Pavel Francouz

Some video of Landy at the skate (shot by George):

Here is audio of Bednar’s presser after the skate:

Here is audio of Landeskog talking about his return – and his suspension:

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