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Morning Report: Stoner Returns to Lineup Tonight vs. Flyers

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks

By Kyle Shohara

Morning Skate Photos

A brief two-game homestand concludes tonight as the Ducks host the visiting Philadelphia Flyers at Honda Center. Tonight’s contest marks the second consecutive game against an Eastern Conference foe, as Anaheim skated to a 3-2 triumph over the Boston Bruins on Monday night on goals from Sami Vatanen, Devante Smith-Pelly and Matt Beleskey.

The victory ended a two-game skid (losses on Friday vs. Chicago and Saturday at San Jose) and gave the Ducks their fourth win in their past six games (4-2-0), keeping them near the top of the Western Conference standings. Anaheim enters tonight’s contest co-leading the West with the division-rival Vancouver Canucks.

Tonight will conclude the season series with the Flyers, who suffered a heartbreaking 2-1 defeat last night at the SAP Center in San Jose. The Flyers, who had lost four consecutive games entering last night’s tilt, were 11.5 seconds away from securing at least one point until Long Beach native Matt Nieto stuck a dagger in their hearts after converting on a rebound to give the Sharks a 2-1 victory. The loss was Philadelphia’s fifth in a row (0-4-1) and ninth in its past 10 games (1-8-1).

Flyers forward Jakub Voracek enters tonight’s action as the second-leading scorer in the NHL, only behind Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby. Voracek has 32 points (9g/23), but was held scoreless last night for just the fifth time this season (24 games). Along with Voracek, the Flyers are led by captain Claude Giroux (27 points) and Brayden Schenn (17 points).

“We just have to be aware when they’re on the ice,” said Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau. “We have to be able to check them, stop them and hopefully get it done.” Voracek, Giroux and Schenn combined for a goal and three assists in the first meeting of the season, a 4-3 shootout win for Anaheim on Oct. 14 at Wells Fargo Center.

“We want to do everything we can to avoid a slow start,” said Kyle Palmieri. “They’re a fast team that will get on top of you early.” On Voracek and Giroux, Palmieri says it’s all about limiting their opportunities. “They’re both very good players, but you need to take away their time and space, and make it difficult on them. You have to make them work hard for their opportunities.”

The Ducks have won three straight games over Philadelphia to match a franchise best, and own an all-time record of 12-8-7 vs. the Flyers, including a 6-4-4 mark at Honda Center. Corey Perry (2-7=9) and Ryan Getzlaf (3-6=9) enter tonight's game co-leading the team in career scoring vs. Philadelphia.

After missing five games due to mumps, expect defenseman Clayton Stoner to draw back into the lineup. “I felt better today and I’m ready to go,” he said after the morning skate. “The first couple of shifts are about getting back into it. The game comes to you after that. I’m sure I’ll feel great. I had a lot of time to rest, so hopefully the legs feel good. They felt good this morning.”

His return comes at an opportune time, as it was announced today that Eric Brewer suffered a broken foot during Monday’s game and will be out 4-6 weeks. The Ducks are also without the services of defensemen Francois Beauchemin (fractured finger), Ben Lovejoy (fractured finger), and Mark Fistric (lower back), though Fistric is close to returning. Goaltender Jason LaBarbera will miss 2-3 weeks with a broken hand.

Despite the rash of injuries this season, the Ducks have remained at – or near – the top of the standings, a testament, Stoner says, to the depth of this team.

“We have a great group of young guys who have stepped up big for us. Plus, the older guys have been great leaders. We should have more guys back soon. It’ll get better.”

Earlier today the Ducks announced that unrestricted free agent goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov has joined the team on a pro tryout. The former Ducks netminder is scheduled to meet the team doctor today and is not expected to travel with the club to Minnesota and Winnipeg.

More on Bryzgalov

“Bryz was great when he was here,” said Getzlaf, who was teammates with Bryzgalov from 2005-08. “We never had any complaints or arguments. He enjoys the game and enjoyed being around the guys. He was always a fun guy who enjoyed what he did. He made people laugh. He likes to joke around and be fun.

"When he’s on, he plays so well. He’s a great goaltender. When you’re given a situation such as this, hopefully he realizes this is an opportunity to possibly be back in the NHL again.”

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