Bowen Byram made his return to the lineup last night, helping his team clinch a playoff spot in a 6-4 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Byram had been out since Jan. 10, for lingering effects from a head injury he suffered in November.
In a postgame interview, Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar said it was an impressive first game back for being off that long.
“That was a pretty impressive first game for not playing since January,” added Bednar.
“He was involved right away. He made some great plays on the defensive side of things, he blocked some shots, he was involved offensively, he played in the second unit power play.”
Byram was sent down to the AHL last week to play a couple of conditioning stints with the Colorado Eagles.
“It’s not easy to just go back and play a couple of quick American League games and then jump in the lineup,” Bednar said.
“But he’s worked hard at getting healthy. He’s worked hard at getting in shape and staying in shape. It showed tonight. He’s a talented guy. We missed him when he was gone and he certainly helped us tonight.”
In subsequent post-game interviews, fellow teammates expressed how happy they were to have him back.
“He looked great tonight,” said Nathan Mackinnon.
“He had a lot of good passes, was jumping up into the play, had a great shot – he’s really good at shooting and has a great shot – we needed that for sure. It’s nice to see him.”
“As soon as I showed up to the rink he was the first guy I was looking for,” added Alex Newhook.
“It’s good to have him back. It put a smile on my face to see him out there. He looks great. He was definitely missed by all of the guys. It’s great to have him back with us.”
Byram didn’t have any points in his first game back, but played well on both ends of the ice and put up over 15 minutes.
The Avalanche will play the Winnipeg Jets on Friday.