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Ryan Kesler returns for Ducks against Oilers

Center missed two games; Anaheim defenseman Sami Vatanen also will play

by Derek Van Diest / Correspondent

DUCKS (41-23-10) at OILERS (30-41-7)

TV: 9 p.m. ET; FS-W, SNW, NHL.TV

EDMONTON -- Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Kesler will return to the lineup against the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place on Monday after missing two games because of a family issue.

Kesler rejoined the Ducks in Edmonton for the final game of a five-game road trip (2-1-1).

"It's personal, I know we live in the public spotlight, but that's between me and my family," Kesler said. "I had to go and take care of some things. Obviously, I'm very thankful that the team let me go back and go home to be with my wife and kids and spend some time with them and get through what we're going through right now."

The Ducks are three points behind the Los Angeles Kings for first place in the Pacific Division with a game in hand. Anaheim lost 6-5 in overtime at the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday and defeated the Ottawa Senators 4-3 on Saturday without Kesler in the lineup.

"Anytime you can get Ryan Kesler in the lineup, you're benefiting yourself," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "He's here and I'm happy about it."

The Ducks will also have defenseman Sami Vatanen back in the lineup. Vatanen missed eight games with an upper-body injury.

"What he does, that first pass out of the zone is so good," Boudreau said. "He's a competitive guy for being a small guy and he plays in all situations. You're losing a top-four defenseman [to injury] and not many teams can afford to lose a top-four defenseman."

The Ducks are playing against former teammate Patrick Maroon for the first time since traded to Edmonton just prior to the NHL Trade Deadline on Feb. 29.

Maroon has three goals and two assists in his past two games playing on a line with Oilers rookie sensation Connor McDavid.

"It's been good for me so far, I don't know if it's been puck-luck for me or it's because I'm going to the net more," Maroon said. "It's going well so far and I'm happy, I can't complain."

Maroon, 27, played parts of four seasons with Anaheim before being traded to Edmonton in exchange for minor league defenseman Martin Gernat and a fourth round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft. In 12 games with the Oilers, Maroon has five goals and 11 points.

"Patrick has been a wonderful addition to our team," Oilers coach Todd McLellan said. "He's fit our locker room well. To come to a new team that's, obviously, not going to be in the playoffs and leave a team that, in their case, are hoping to win the Stanley Cup is not an easy thing. But he's fit in our room well, shown leadership skills that we need and brought the proper attitude in."

Maroon had four goals and 13 points in 56 games with the Ducks and had been reduced to playing a fourth-line role.

"When he's being big, he's playing the body and going to the net, when he does that, he can create a lot of room out there for a lot of people and he's been doing that for those guys," Ducks forward Corey Perry said. "It was tough to see him go, he was one of my best friends on the team and it's great to see that he's having success and enjoying what he's doing here."

Goaltender Cam Talbot will start for Edmonton, who have three games remaining at Rexall Place. Edmonton will move into a new downtown arena for the 2016-2017 season.

Goaltender John Gibson will start for Anaheim.

Here are the projected lineups:


Brandon Pirri - Ryan Getzlaf - Chris Stewart

Jamie McGinn - Rickard Rakell - Corey Perry

Andrew Cogliano - Ryan Kesler - Jakob Silfverberg

Nate Thompson - Shawn Horcoff - Ryan Garbutt

Cam Fowler - Sami Vatanen

Hampus Lindholm - Josh Manson

Clayton Stoner - Shea Theodore

John Gibson

Frederik Andersen

Injured: Kevin Bieksa (upper body), Simon Despres (undisclosed), David Perron (shoulder)

Scratched: Mike Santorelli, Korbinian Holzer, Nick Ritchie


Patrick Maroon - Connor McDavid - Jordan Eberle

Taylor Hall - Leon Draisaitl - Nail Yakupov

Lauri Korpikoski - Mark Letestu - Iiro Pakarinen

Matt Hendricks - Anton Lander - Zack Kassian  

Andrej Sekera - Mark Fayne

Jordan Oesterle - Griffin Reinhart

Darnell Nurse - Adam Clendening

Cam Talbot

Laurent Brossoit

Scratched: Luke Gazdic, Adam Cracknell, Nikita Nikitin

Injured: Oscar Klefbom (foot), Andrew Ference (hip), Brandon Davidson (knee), Benoit Pouliot (shoulder), Eric Gryba (knee), Adam Pardy (undisclosed), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (concussion)

Status report: Gryba and Pardy took the morning skate, but are not ready to return to the lineup. The Oilers are hoping Nugent-Hopkins will be ready to play Saturday against the Calgary Flames.

Who's hot: McGinn has five goals and one assist in his past six games. … Lindholm has two goals and three assists in his past five games. … Silfverberg has four goals in his past four games … McDavid is on a seven-game scoring streak (one goal, nine assists). … Maroon has three goals and two assists in his past two games. 

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