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Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson back for playoff push

CHICAGO — Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson had butterflies before Sunday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings. It wasn’t because of the big-name opponent, but rather his return from a 13-game injury absence and being stoked to rejoin a team in a playoff push and looking for its third postseason appearance in 10 years.

“I’m nervous before every game, honestly, and I think if you’re not nervous, you shouldn’t be playing,” Johnson said after the Avs defeated the Red Wings 5-1 at the Pepsi Center. “Getting those first couple hits out of the way early definitely helped. It was easy from there, after I got a couple licks in to settle down and get my feet under me. I was happy the way I played for my first game back.”

The Avs didn’t canceled practice Monday but traveled to Chicago, where they play the Blackhawks on Tuesday night to begin the final 10-game, regular-season stretch.

Johnson plays in all situations and leads the Avs in average ice time. But the team collected points in 11 of the 13 games he missed, going 7-2-4. Colorado entered Monday’s games with 86 points and in the first of two Western Conference wild-card playoff spots.

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