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At the Rink: Canucks at Capitals

by Katie Brown

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Goaltender Ryan Miller will be in net when the Vancouver Canucks begin their six-game road trip Thursday against the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center (7 p.m. ET; SN360, CSN-DC).

Miller missed eight games because of a groin injury sustained Dec. 20 against the Florida Panthers. After backing up Jacob Markstrom the past two games, Miller said he is ready to start.

"I had little nagging things here and there but this was just a weird one," Miller said Wednesday. "I expected it to be a lot shorter and it lingered a little longer. I pride myself on being prepared and not having to face a lot of these things over my career because I feel I can get ahead of it."

Against the Panthers, Miller left the game after Panthers forward Brandon Pirri scored on his shootout attempt.

"I got cramped up and it wasn't as preventable," Miller said. "It was Florida, it was warm and it's more that I didn't feel good in Detroit (Dec. 18) and got dehydrated and that was a shootout game. It was also at the end of a road trip and we had been travelling a lot and it kind of builds up."

With a plethora of injuries making their way through the Canucks (17-16-10) lineup, forward Derek Dorsett is the latest to find himself playing alongside Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin on the top line. Jannik Hansen, the Sedins' usual linemate, has missed two games because of an upper-body injury.

"We have some injuries and that stuff and we've been switching lines a lot," said Daniel Sedin, who with his next goal will pass Markus Naslund for first place on the Canucks' all-time goals list. "When things don't work you switch. And now with injuries too you switch. I think we're used to that as a team. Derek is great at retrieving pucks and getting in on the forecheck so it’ll be fun."

Alexandre Burrows played on a line with the Sedins against the Panthers on Monday. Canucks coach Willie Desjardins said he is searching for a temporary combination that might find some chemistry while Hansen gets healthy.

"You can go through injuries for a few games and a short period of time," Henrik Sedin said. "But when it's lengthy injuries and guys have to play up in the lineup and maybe further up than they're used to, that works for a few weeks. But if it goes longer than that it's getting tough. That's where we've been for a while now. Guys have done a great job."

Though Dorsett typically plays the role of a fourth-line grinder, Desjardins said he won't expect that style of play from his top line.

"They're not going to go into that type of game," he said. "They're just going to play hard no matter what happens. It's more of a guy that complements them, goes to the net and has good speed."

Capitals (32-7-3) forward Marcus Johansson said he is eager to return from his two-game suspension for a hit on New York Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey.

Johansson hasn't played center regularly for four seasons but has been subbing in on the Capitals' third line while Jay Beagle is out because of a hand injury. Missing two games while he's still re-adjusting to playing center hasn't been ideal, Johansson said.

"It's never fun. But the important thing is we got away with two wins and that's all that matters," he said.

Braden Holtby will start in goal for the Capitals.

Here are the projected lineups:

CANUCKS

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Derek Dorsett

Sven Baertschi - Bo Horvat - Radim Vrbata

Emerson Etem - Linden Vey - Jake Virtanen

Brandon Prust - Jared McCann - Alexandre Burrows

Alexander Edler - Christopher Tanev

Alex Biega - Yannick Weber

Ben Hutton - Matt Bartkowski

Ryan Miller

Jacob Markstrom

Injured: Jannik Hansen (upper body), Dan Hamhuis (facial surgery), Luca Sbisa (hand), Brandon Sutter (sports hernia surgery)

Scratched: Andrey Pedan, Adam Cracknell

CAPITALS

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie

Andre Burakovsky - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Justin Williams

Jason Chimera - Marcus Johansson - Tom Wilson

Brooks Laich - Zach Sill - Stanislav Galiev

Matt Niskanen - Karl Alzner

Dmitry Orlov - Nate Schmidt

Aaron Ness - Taylor Chorney

Braden Holtby

Philipp Grubauer

Injured: Brooks Orpik (lower body), John Carlson (lower body), Jay Beagle (upper body)

Scratched: Mike Richards, Michael Latta

Status update: Orpik has started skating but there is no timetable for him to start practicing with the Capitals. … Sbisa practiced Wednesday for the first time since he was injured but isn't near returning. ... Hansen participated in the optional skate Thursday but will not play.

Who's hot: Ovechkin has five points in his past three games. ... Schmidt has five points in his past three games. ... Backstrom has nine points in six games. … Horvat has six points in his past four games. ... Baertschi has four points in three games.

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