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Avalanche make playoffs, Duchene injures knee

(Reuters) - Colorado Avalanche, once a National Hockey League playoff regular, will return for the first time since 2010 after claiming a 3-2 win over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.

Since relocating from Quebec in 1995, the Avalanche has made 12 playoff appearances, claiming Stanley Cup titles in 1995-96 and 2000-01, but it has been slim pickings since being knocked out in the first round of the 2009-10 postseason.

Goaltender Semyon Varlamov stopped a season high 47 shots while John Mitchell, Paul Stastny and Cody McLeod all scored goals against the Sharks to clinch their return to the big time.

But the celebration was somewhat tempered by a left knee injury to center Matt Duchene who leads the team in scoring with 70 points.

Duchene will have an MRI on Sunday to assess the seriousness of the injury.

(Reporting by Ben Everill in Los Angeles, Editing by Gene Cherry)

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