Avs defenseman Erik Johnson nears return from broken leg

DENVER (AP) Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson is nearing a return after being sidelined since early December with a broken leg.

Although Johnson won't play Tuesday against Los Angeles, coach Jared Bednar said the Avalanche's top defenseman has been going through some of the contact drills in practice and ''that's a positive sign.''

He broke his leg while blocking a shot Dec. 3 against Dallas.

Johnson's return would bolster a banged-up defense that lost Nikita Zadorov for the season after he fractured his ankle Monday during a drill in practice. Zadorov leads the team in hits.

Forward Rene Bourque also is progressing from a head injury. He recently participated in practice while wearing a noncontact jersey. Bourque has been out since leaving in the first period on Feb. 1 at Los Angeles.

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