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At the Rink: Ducks at Canucks

by Kevin Woodley

VANCOUVER -- Top-pairing Vancouver Canucks defenseman Christopher Tanev will return against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday after missing the past two games with a badly bruised right foot.

Tanev thought he might be out longer after blocking two hard shots from Steven Stamkos in the final minutes of 2-1 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Dec. 22.

"Right after the shot I thought I might miss a bit more time than I did so I am happy to be back after only a few games," said Tanev, who took the extra "shot blocker" protective layer off his right skate before getting hit because it had been catching the ice and causing him to fall against the Lightning. He will have that protective plastic piece back on both skates against Anaheim.

"I've worn shot blockers for two or three years, but sometimes it's a pain when they catch the ice," he said. "You've got to keep them on if you are out there blocking shots like that."

Tanev, who is second on the team with 21:33 average ice time, was also still wearing a walking boot after the Canucks lost 5-0 to the Los Angeles Kings on Monday. He returned to practice Thursday and will rejoin regular partner Alexander Edler as the shutdown and first penalty-kill pairing against the Ducks' top line and power play.

"When you look at the minutes he plays and who he plays against, he always gets the tough assignments," coach Willie Desjardins said. "If you look at those blocks on Stamkos, he made two big blocks on hard shots. … He does everything for the team. He's an all-around player that can compete against the other team's top lines."

Tanev knows the Canucks won't have much margin for error defensively against the Ducks, who are coming off a 1-0 shutout against the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday. It was the second straight 1-0 victory for Anaheim and goalie John Gibson, who made 21 saves against the Oilers after making 14 to beat the Calgary Flames 1-0 on Tuesday.

"We know they are not giving up much at all," Tanev said. "So we are going to have to be good in our own end if they are not going to give up a lot."

Although Gibson is coming off back-to-back shutouts and has two shutouts in as many career games against Vancouver, coach Bruce Boudreau confirmed Friday afternoon that Frederik Andersen will make his first start since being pulled after one period of a 5-2 loss to the New York Islanders on Dec. 21.

It will be Andersen's fourth appearance since getting sick in late November and missing more than two weeks.

“Three games in four nights in different cities with all the travel and giving John a rest, plus Freddie has been our No.1 goalie for a year and a half and he deserves another chance to get back in the net," Boudreau said of his decision to play Andersen.

Ducks defenseman Kevin Bieksa, who will play his first game back in Vancouver since being traded in the offseason after 10 seasons with the Canucks, will also talk to the media a couple of hours before the game.

"I'm sure it will be a little bit more emotional out there; he was here for so long," Tanev said of Bieksa. "But at the end of the day it's just another game. After his first few shifts he'll settle in and he wants to beat us just as bad as we want to beat them."

Here are the projected lineups:

DUCKS

Rickard Rakell - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry

Carl Hagelin - Ryan Kesler - Jakob Silfverberg

Jiri Sekac - Shawn Horcoff - Mike Santorelli

Patrick Maroon - Nate Thompson - Andrew Cogliano

Hampus Lindholm - Josh Manson

Sami Vatanen - Kevin Bieksa

Clayton Stoner - Shea Theodore

Frederik Andersen

John Gibson

Injured: Simon Despres (concussion symptoms), Cam Fowler (knee)

Scratched: Korbinian Holzer, Chris Stewart

CANUCKS

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Jannik Hansen

Ronalds Kenins - Bo Horvat - Radim Vrbata

Chris Higgins - Linden Vey - Derek Dorsett

Brandon Prust - Adam Cracknell - Alexandre Burrows

Alexander Edler - Christopher Tanev

Alex Biega - Yannick Weber

Ben Hutton - Matt Bartkowski

Jacob Markstrom

Joe Cannata

Injured: Sven Baertschi (neck), Ryan Miller (lower body), Dan Hamhuis (facial surgery), Luca Sbisa (hand), Brandon Sutter (sports hernia surgery)

Scratched: Andrey Pedan, Jared McCann

Status report: Baertschi left in the second period against the Kings and hasn't skated since. He is listed as day-to-day. … Miller, who will miss his fourth game since cramping up in a shootout against the Florida Panthers on Dec. 20, skated before the team Friday and could be back within a week. … With Tanev returning, the Canucks sent defenseman Ashton Sautner back to Utica of the American Hockey League on Thursday.

Who's hot: Getzlaf has two goals and three assists in his past five games. … Gibson is 3-0-0 with two shutouts and a .967 save percentage in his past three starts.

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