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Avs optimistic Nathan MacKinnon returns Saturday

Dec 1, 2022; Buffalo, New York, USA;  Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29) looks to make a pass during the third period against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Nathan MacKinnon could be back in the Colorado Avalanche lineup when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.

Out the past 11 games with an upper-body injury, MacKinnon was expected to decide his status prior to puck drop Saturday night. He hasn’t played since leaving a 5-3 loss at the Philadelphia Flyers on Dec. 5.

“He’s close too. Really close,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “When he tells me he’s ready to go, he’ll play. Until then, we’re on hold.”

MacKinnon, 27, left the game after blocking a shot and taking a hit along the boards from Flyers forward Scott Laughton.

MacKinnon led Colorado with 34 points (eight goals, 26 assists) through 23 games.

He has posted 682 points (250 goals, 432 assists) in 661 games since Colorado drafted him No. 1 overall in 2013.

–Field Level Media