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At the Rink: Kings at Ducks

by Curtis Zupke

ANAHEIM -- It doesn't appear that the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings will have key defensemen in their lineups for the finale of their regular-season series Wednesday at Honda Center (NBCSN, SN, 10:30 p.m.).

Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen skated on the fourth pairing at the morning skate. Coach Bruce Boudreau said Vatanen wasn't ready to come back from a lower-body injury that has kept him out for 14 games.

"When he's ready to play he's going to play," Boudreau said. "This is the time of year that we want to make sure everyone's completely healthy. And he's pretty close to being healthy but I don't know if he's 100 percent. He might be 96 percent. The team we have right now, the defense is playing pretty well. Why take that extra chance? Let's wait until he's ready to play."

Anaheim, which plays Friday against the Colorado Avalanche, can afford Vatanen more time because of the addition of defensemen Simon Despres and James Wisniewski, who, like Vatanen, is a power-play quarterback.

Kings defenseman Alec Martinez reportedly continued to take extra work at the morning skate, and coach Darryl Sutter had said Martinez would be available when he doesn't require such work. The Kings play Saturday against the Vancouver Canucks.

The thinking is that neither team would want to throw Vatanen or Martinez back in for such an intense and physical game. Boudreau, who always plays along with the rivalry, was blunt when asked about facing the Kings again in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"We hope they don't make it," Boudreau said. "They're a great team and they're Stanley Cup champions and they've got that blood in them. All three years they've been in the final four. It's always 'Be careful what you wish for.'"

Boudreau will start goalie John Gibson for the fourth straight game. Gibson has won six of his past seven decisions and defeated the Kings on Feb. 27 in his first regular-season start against them.

Gibson and goalie Frederik Andersen each played in the Western Conference Second Round last season, a seven-game loss to the Kings in the inaugural postseason series between the teams.

"I think if you ask them and then you ask us, it's a little more special," Gibson said. "It's a rivalry, obviously."

The Kings moved into third place in the Pacific Division on Tuesday although they didn't play. But Tuesday began with the Kings and Ducks matched up if the playoffs had started that day.

"Playoffs [don't] start today so I'm not going to even think about it," Kings left wing Marian Gaborik said Tuesday. "We have to play every game like it's a playoff game and get points to get to play. That's our goal right now. You can't look at it that way, 'Who would you play?' We need to look at it if we are in the playoff picture or not. We want to be there. We're going to do everything we can to get there."

Here are the projected lineups:


Marian Gaborik - Anze Kopitar - Trevor Lewis

Dwight King - Jeff Carter - Tyler Toffoli

Dustin Brown - Nick Shore - Justin Williams

Kyle Clifford - Andy Andreoff - Jordan Nolan

Robyn Regehr - Drew Doughty

Jake Muzzin - Matt Greene

Brayden McNabb - Andrej Sekera

Jonathan Quick

Martin Jones

Scratched: Jamie McBain

Injured: Jarret Stoll (upper body), Alec Martinez (concussion symptoms), Tanner Pearson (leg)


Patrick Maroon - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry

Matt Beleskey - Ryan Kesler - Kyle Palmieri

Andrew Cogliano - Nate Thompson - Jakob Silfverberg

Tomas Fleischmann - Rickard Rakell - Emerson Etem

Hampus Lindholm - Francois Beauchemin

Cam Fowler - Simon Despres

Clayton Stoner - James Wisniewski

John Gibson

Frederik Andersen

Scratched: Jiri Sekac, Korbinian Holzer

Injured: Tim Jackman (lower body), Sami Vatanen (lower body)

Status report: Sekac stayed out for extra work and likely will be scratched for the first time since he joined the Ducks on Feb. 24. … The line of Beleskey, Kesler and Palmieri appears to be reunited for the first time since Beleskey returned from a shoulder injury. … Quick is expected to start for the 26th time in 27 games. He had his sixth shutout this season Monday, and is 13-2-1 with a 1.67 goals-against average and .933 save percentage in his past 17 games. … Pearson has begun skating.

Who's hot: McNabb has four points in his past four games. ... Getzlaf has three goals in three games. ... Silfverberg has one goal and two assists in his past two games.

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