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At the Rink: Oilers at Ducks

by Curtis Zupke / NHL.com

ANAHEIM – Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau had said he was reluctant to rest players for the final stretch of the regular season but he left open that possibility regarding centers Ryan Kesler and Ryan Getzlaf.

Getzlaf, like he often does, did not participate in the morning skate in advance of Anaheim’s game Wednesday against the Edmonton Oilers. Kesler took Getzlaf’s place on the top line, usually a sign that Kesler, who played Sunday against the New Jersey Devils but is dealing with an arm injury, will sit out.

Boudreau was coy when asked about Kesler being available.

“I don’t know if he’s playing, but he’s good to go,” Boudreau said.

Boudreau is in the precarious position of trying to play well heading into the Stanley Cup Playoffs while having the luxury of resting banged-up players, and Kesler would seem to fall into the latter category. Kesler has played 78 games, the most on the Ducks along with left wing Andrew Cogliano.

“It’s a really tough question, because we’ve got four games in the next [11] days,” Boudreau said. “You probably would like to rest a player or two, but at the same time, does it mean he’s going to get rusty? I don’t know the perfect answer to that. You’ve got to go by feel.”

The Ducks need one point to clinch their third straight Pacific Division title and can record 50 wins for the second season in a row.

“It’s a tough question because you want to win all the time, but I mean, I don’t think we’ll be throwing a party if we win tonight,” Boudreau said. “It’s something that we want to do, but at the same time, I think our goals are a little bit bigger. In baseball, they would be having a champagne party here, but this isn’t baseball.”

The Ducks have said they don’t care much for the Presidents’ Trophy for best regular season and their goal is to be playing well going into the postseason. That is their primary motivation, and the Oilers have their attention because of their recent success.

“I think it’s tricky because they’ve been playing well,” Cogliano said. “They’re loose as a group, but they’ve been playing well as a team. Their first line’s been very strong. I think their power play’s been first since the All-Star break. They’ve been playing good and I think the motivation for us is to keep playing well.”

The Edmonton Oilers will try to extend their three-game winning streak without goalie Richard Bachman, who left the team because of a death in the family, the Oilers announced Wednesday.

Bachman, who backstopped the Oilers to their past two wins, won’t be available for Edmonton’s back-to-back series that starts at the Anaheim Ducks followed by the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday.

Goalie Ben Scrivens will likely play both games, although Edmonton coach Todd Nelson stopped short of committing to that. Goalie Tyler Bunz was recalled from the American Hockey League.

“We’ll take it game-by-game like we always have, and we’ll focus on tonight,” Nelson said. “We’ll see how things shake out tomorrow. A lot can happen, obviously.”

Edmonton is trying to win its fourth straight, its longest streak since Oct.20-27.

Here are the projected lineups:

OILERS

Benoit Pouliot - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle

Teddy Purcell - Derek Roy - Nail Yakupov

Taylor Hall - Anton Lander - Andrew Miller

Luke Gadzic - Rob Klinkhammer - Matt Fraser

Oscar Klefbom - Justin Schultz

Martin Marincin - Nikita Nikitin

Brandon Davidson - Keith Aulie

Ben Scrivens

Tyler Bunz

Injured: Viktor Fasth (knee), Andrew Ference (concussion), Mark Fayne (shoulder), Iiro Pakarinen (knee)

Scratched: Boyd Gordon, Matt Hendricks

DUCKS

Jiri Sekac - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry

Patrick Maroon - Rickard Rakell - Kyle Palmieri

Andrew Cogliano - Nate Thompson - Jakob Silfverberg

Tomas Fleischmann - Chris Wagner - Emerson Etem

Cam Fowler - Sami Vatanen

James Wisniewski - Simon Despres

Hampus Lindholm - Francois Beauchemin

Frederik Andersen

John Gibson

Injured: Tim Jackman (lower body), Clayton Stoner (lower body), Matt Beleskey (lower body)

Scratched: Ryan Kesler, Korbinian Holzer

Status report: Nelson said their lineup will be the same and that Hendricks (back) is “really close,” along with Gordon (back), and both could return Thursday. Andersen was first off the ice. Boudreau said he wasn’t committed to having the lines set for the final four games.

Who’s hot: Miller has six points in three games. Nugget-Hopkins and Eberle each have seven goals and nine assists in the past 11 games. Beauchemin reached the 10-goal mark for the first time and is one assist short of passing Oleg Tvardovsky for second on the franchise all-time assist list among defensemen (125).

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