Grubauer, Rantanen, Donskoi could return for Avalanche on Friday


Philipp Grubauer, Mikko Rantanen and Joonas Donskoi could each return to the Colorado Avalanche lineup when they host the San Jose Sharks on Friday.

Each had been in NHL COVID-19 protocol but has been removed. None are expected to play when Avalanche visit the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday (9:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

“I think all three of those guys are a possibility for Friday, which would be great,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said Tuesday.

Grubauer, a goalie, and Donskoi, a forward, each missed four games after testing positive. Rantanen missed three games because of contact tracing.

Grubauer was placed in protocol April 14 and was expected to be out at least two weeks. He was removed from protocol Friday and returned to skating Tuesday.

“Trying to build him back up to be able to be the starter for us, hopefully Friday,” Bednar said. “He’s on the ice today for the first time. He’s been in the building with us for three or four days working out and working on his conditioning, strengthening of his groins and abdomen and everything he needs to do.”

Grubauer is 25-8-1 in 34 games with a 2.00 goals-against average, .920 save percentage and five shutouts. He was tied for the NHL lead in wins with Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning; Grubaure now trails Vasilevskiy by three.

“He’s feeling really good,” Bednar said. “I don’t want to rush him back. He’s not going to play for us tomorrow after one skate and a pregame skate, but if he feels good for Friday, then he’s a possibility.”

Donskoi, who was placed in protocol April 16, was removed Monday and returned to the ice Tuesday. He has scored 28 points (15 goals, 13 assists) in 42 games.

Rantanen, who had been in protocol since April 20, was removed Monday and will skate Thursday. He has scored 52 points (26 goals, 26 assists) in 43 games.

“Mikko’s on the ice and getting ready to play,” Bednar said. “He wasn’t feeling great, he was under the weather, and now he’s feeling good, so he’ll gear up for as soon as we can get him back. I’m hoping that’s Friday.

“Donskoi [has] a little bit later timeline, but he has been feeling good, doing some work on his own and going through the cardiac testing.”

The Avalanche, who had three games postponed from April 16-20 because of COVID-19 protocols, have lost two games to the St. Louis Blues after going 18-1-2 in the previous 21 games.

Colorado (31-11-4), which has clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, is second in the Honda West Division, four points behind Vegas.

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