Avalanche center Nazem Kadri’s return “definite possibility” in the next two games – The Denver Post

TAMPA, Fla. — Nazem Kadri on Tuesday looked like a player ready to play in the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Avalanche’s second-line center of choice was among the 15 or so skaters who competed in an optional skate at Amalie Arena, and aside from slap shots, he handled everything else along with fellow top-six forwards Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabe Landeskog.

The four forwards came onto the ice together and ran away together after 30 minutes of work.

Defenseman Erik Johnson was also on the ice with Kadri, who is recovering from a surgically repaired fractured right thumb. The surgery came on June 6, two days after he went down in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals in Edmonton.

“I would expect him to be a definite possibility in the next couple of games,” said Johnson.

Colorado coach Jared Bednar supported these claims: “He seems to be getting better every day. I think he’s an option for us here at some point. I’m not sure how soon.”

Kadri has 14 points (six goals) in 13 postseason games. He had a hat trick and four points in Game 4 against St. Louis in Round 2 and is one of Colorado’s best two-way forwards. Kadri’s potential return would reunite him with wingers Artturi Lehkonen and Rantanen and allow JT Compher to move down as the club’s third-line center.

Kadri’s return would also help the Avs hide winger Andre Burakovsky’s hand/wrist injury, which was downed in Game 2 against Tampa Bay. Bednar said Tuesday Burakowski never traveled here on Monday and is staying at home.

“He’s getting treatment in Denver and I think if he doesn’t skate today, he will skate tomorrow,” said Bednar, who said on Monday Burakovsky would fly here and join the team.

Cooper challenge review. Under the NHL rulebook, Cooper was under no specific time limit to contest the Avalanche’s first goal for offside, a decision he won to take the goal away from Valeri Nichushkin.

65 seconds after the goal, the Lightning lined up to face off, but Cooper and his staff told the players to retreat. He formally contested the call 13 seconds later.

“It was probably three times as long as we normally get,” Bednar said.

Cooper said: “We’re at the mercy of whatever reps we get. I don’t know if I’m in the minority on that, but I don’t know if (challenging the goal call) should be in our hands. If it’s either on the side or offside, I just don’t know why I have to make that decision when the stakes are so high. We were lucky with the timing.

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