Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon returning Wednesday
Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon returning Wednesday vs. Maple Leafs

Colorado Avalanche star center Nathan MacKinnon went down with an unspecified lower-body injury suffered during a loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Nov. 6 and hasn't played since that matchup.  

MacKinnon was initially set to miss approximately three weeks of action because of the setback, and Rick Sadowski of the NHL's website notes the 26-year-old practiced wearing a regular jersey Monday and will be back in the lineup Wednesday when the 11-6-1 Avalanche play at the 16-6-1 Toronto Maple Leafs. 

"He'll be playing tomorrow," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said of MacKinnon during a Tuesday appearance on Altitude Sports Radio. "It will take a lot to keep him out. The reason we don't release it yesterday is because that's his big day of practice and that's where there's going to be contact, and something could realistically flare up today. I don't think that's going to happen. He's been feeling great. He had the day off and had the big day of practice yesterday, went through all different kinds of scenarios.

"He's done a really nice job of remaining on target and getting himself healthy, getting himself back ready to play."

MacKinnon was sidelined leading the Avalanche with nine assists and tied for the team lead with 10 total points tallied across eight games. He missed the season's first two contests due to testing positive for COVID-19. 

Somewhat surprisingly, Colorado won six straight games and went 7-1-0 without MacKinnon. 

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