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At the Rink: Blue Jackets at Canucks

by Kevin Woodley

VANCOUVER -- Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Ryan Murray won't play against the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday because of a lower-body injury he sustained on a hit against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday.

"He got a little banged up last night, so we're keeping him out, just more of a precaution than anything else," Columbus coach Todd Richards said. "We'll see how it goes tomorrow, and then possibly back in the lineup on Saturday."

Murray has two assists in 10 games after missing most of the season because of injuries. A knee injury cost him seven games to start the season, another in early November kept him out 36 games, and an ankle sprain kept him out 16 games early February through March 12.

Richards also sent center Brandon Dubinsky back to Columbus for further evaluation after he sat out the game in Edmonton. Dubinsky, who has 25 points in 38 games after missing the first two months of the season because of abdominal surgery, took part in the morning skate Wednesday but has missed three of the past four games because of an undisclosed injury.

"He is getting looked at by our doctors as I speak," Richards said. "It was something that was kind of nagging at him. It was an ongoing injury from a previous game or incident."

The Blue Jackets have already lost 450 man-games to injury this season.

Canucks goaltender Eddie Lack isn't thinking about the Stanley Cup Playoffs yet, so he isn't worried about a report that No. 1 goaltender Ryan Miller won't be back from his knee injury before the postseason starts in mid-April.

Miller originally was expected to miss 4-6 weeks after spraining his right knee Feb. 22. But according to a TSN report Wednesday, Miller won't practice with the Canucks for another three weeks, making a return before the playoffs unlikely.

"First of all, we have to get in the playoffs," Lack said. "I'm not looking at it differently. I am trying to do my job here every day and just take it game by game and see where we end up."

Canucks coach Willie Desjardins said Miller has skated without any equipment and is on the right track. Even if Miller returns toward the end of the original projection, however, there will be less than a week left in the regular season to get game-ready.

"The good thing is wherever we're at we are happy with how [Lack] is playing," Desjardins said. "But nothing changed."

Lack will play his 13th straight game Thursday; he's played all but seven minutes and 45 seconds since Miller was hurt.

Since a brief early hiccup that included 10 goals in two games and a loss to the last-place Buffalo Sabres on Feb. 28, Lack is 4-1-1 with a .946 save percentage in seven games. After rebuilding his body in the offseason, there have been few signs of the drop-off that occurred late last season when Lack's body and game broke down while starting 19 straight games in a 41-day span.

"My body and mentally, I am feeling way better, but I am getting a lot more rest in between starts too," Lack said. "So much is different this year, it's hard to compare. I'm feeling good."

Columbus did not skate Thursday after arriving in Vancouver at 2 a.m. PT following a 4-3 shootout win against the Oilers. Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky will start after Curtis McElhinney made a career-high 44 saves in Edmonton.

Here are the projected lineups:

BLUE JACKETS

Nick Foligno - Artem Anisimov - Corey Tropp

Rene Bourque - Ryan Johansen - Cam Atkinson

Scott Hartnell - Alexander Wennberg - Marko Dano

Ryan Craig - Mark Letestu - Jared Boll

Jack Johnson - David Savard

Cody Goloubef - Fedor Tyutin

Kevin Connauton - Dalton Prout

Sergei Bobrovsky

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Justin Falk

Injured: Ryan Murray (lower body), David Clarkson (oblique), Jack Skille (shoulder), Jeremy Morin (heart), Boone Jenner (back), Matt Calvert (concussion), Brandon Dubinsky (undisclosed)

CANUCKS

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alexandre Burrows

Shawn Matthias - Nick Bonino - Radim Vrbata

Chris Higgins - Linden Vey - Derek Dorsett

Ronalds Kenins - Bo Horvat - Jannik Hansen

Alexander Edler - Christopher Tanev

Dan Hamhuis - Yannick Weber

Luca Sbisa - Kevin Bieksa

Eddie Lack

Jacob Markstrom

Scratched: Brandon McMillan, Adam Clendening, Ryan Stanton

Injured: Ryan Miller (knee), Brad Richardson (ankle), Zack Kassian (back)

Status report: Richardson skipped the morning skate Thursday and was listed as a game-time decision by Desjardins, who described the absence as a maintenance day. But Richardson missed almost two months with a bone bruise in his ankle before returning to play the past two games and assist on two goals. If he can't play, his third-line center spot will be filled by Vey, who was a healthy scratch for two games. … Kassian will miss a second straight game with a back injury but skated on his own Thursday and isn't expected to be out long. … The Canucks were carrying nine healthy defensemen before sending rookie Frank Corrado to the Utica Comets of the American Hockey League on Thursday. "He needs to play," Desjardins said. "We need some games for him."

Who's hot: Hartnell extended his point streak to five games with an assist against Edmonton. He had five goals in the previous four games. … Dorsett, who spent his first five NHL seasons with the Blue Jackets has one goal and three assists in his past two games.

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