Kesler was at practice Friday for the first time since a knee-on-knee collision with Winnipeg Jets forward Jim Slater on March 12, but was a game-time decision against Buffalo. Kesler will center the second line in place of Shawn Matthias, who drops to the fourth line, and Jordan Schroeder goes from the fourth line to being a healthy scratch.
Kesler leads the Canucks with 22 goals and is tied for second with 40 points in 67 games. He tops all NHL forwards in average ice time at 22:08, playing on the top power play and penalty kill units for Vancouver.
Top-line left wing Daniel Sedin will return for the Canucks after missing nine games with a hamstring injury, but fellow top-line wing Alexandre Burrows is out and day-to-day after injuring his left hand during a 2-0 win against the Nashville Predators on Wednesday.