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Injured Colorado NHLer Paul Stastny skates with Avalanche

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. - Colorado Avalanche centre Paul Stastny, who has missed the last seven weeks with a broken right forearm, skated with the team Monday and could return to the lineup as early as Friday against the Washington Capitals.

Stastny was injured in the final minute of regulation of Colorado's 5-4 overtime win against Phoenix on Dec. 23. He had surgery a week later and has missed the Avalanche's last 23 games.

Stastny worked with assistant coach Dave Barr on conditioning, puck-handling and shooting drills Monday. He also practised with the team on other drills.

Coach Tony Granato said Stastny has made progress, but will sit out Tuesday night against Ottawa.

"He was on a regular line today," Granato said. "He will not play tomorrow. He'll have a full practice with us on Thursday and then see where he's at."

The Avalanche host the Senators before heading out on a six-game, 11-day road trip against Eastern Conference teams.

"He'll be on the trip," Granato said of Stastny. "Seven weeks since the surgery and a six-to eight-week time frame we'd thought he'd be back, so he's getting close."

Stastny had 10 goals and 21 assists this season.

At the time of his injury, he led the team in scoring and is currently fourth.

Since Stastny's injury, the Avalanche are 9-14 and have fallen into last place in the Western Conference, eight points out of the final playoff spot.

In Saturday's shootout win in Detroit - the Avs' third victory over the defending champions this season - Colorado got defenceman Adam Foote back from a triceps injury that shelved him for 17 games.

Granato said Foote's presence and the impending return of Stastny is a boost.

"At this point of the season, you're tired, you're banged up, you're looking for some fresh legs and some leadership to come back into the lineup," he said. "And we get that with both those guys."

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