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Ducks get Bieksa back against Bruins

Defenseman had lower-body injury; Beleskey makes return to Anaheim

by Abbey Mastracco / Correspondent

BRUINS (39-24-8) at DUCKS (38-22-9)


ANAHEIM -- Kevin Bieksa will return for the Anaheim Ducks when they host the Boston Bruins in the final game of a three-game homestand on Friday at Honda Center.

The defenseman was injured a week ago at the St. Louis Blues and missed two games with a lower-body injury. Bieksa said he would have been able to play on Wednesday against the the New York Rangers, but was held out for an extra game as a precaution. 

"I think yesterday's practice went well and this morning's practice went well," Bieksa said. "I'll be ready either way."

Bieksa skated with Cam Fowler at the morning skate. The two games missed were the only ones for Bieksa this season.

Matt Beleskey returns to Anaheim for the first time since signing with Boston as a free agent in the offseason. Beleskey was drafted by the Ducks in 2006 and played 329 games over seven seasons with the organization. 

"There was a lot of ups and downs, a lot of lessons learned and a couple different coaches," Beleskey said. "It's all been a learning curve. The majority of my career was spent here, so I spent a huge part of my life here in Anaheim. Even just walking into the rink it brings me back to the playoffs last year, doing that walk before games."

Beleskey has scored 13 goals and has 33 points with a plus-14 rating in his first season in Boston. He was able to fit in seamlessly with a system that plays to his strengths.

"When I came here, they didn't want me to change anything," Beleskey said. "That was a big thing, just play my game. I feel like it's fit what they wanted and what they were looking for out of me. It's been a good year."

Boston owns the second-best road record in the NHL (23-8-3) but is coming off a 3-2 loss at the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday. The Bruins haven't lost consecutive games since Jan. 26-Feb. 2 and haven't lost two straight in regulation since Jan. 11-13. They're in second place in the Atlantic Division with 86 points, one point ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Ducks are in second place in the Pacific Division, six points back from the Los Angeles Kings. 

Here are the projected lineups:


Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Lee Stempniak

Loui Eriksson - David Krejci - David Pastrnak

Matt Beleksey - Ryan Spooner - Brett Connolly

Landon Ferraro - Noel Acciari - Jimmy Hayes

Zdeno Chara - Kevan Miller

Dennis Seidenberg - John-Michael Liles

Torrey Krug - Adam McQuaid

Jonas Gustavsson

Tuukka Rask

Injured: Chris Kelly (femur)

Scratched: Joe Morrow, Zach Trotman, Tyler Randall


David Perron - Ryan Getzlaf - Brandon Pirri

Andrew Cogliano - Ryan Kesler - Jakob Silfverberg

Jamie McGinn - Rickard Rakell - Corey Perry

Nick Ritchie - Shawn Horcoff - Ryan Garbutt

Cam Fowler - Kevin Bieksa

Hampus Lindholm - Josh Manson

Clayton Stoner - Simon Despres

Frederik Andersen

John Gibson

Injured: Chris Stewart (jaw), Sami Vatanen (upper-body), Nate Thompson (lower-body)

Scratched: Mike Santorelli, Korbinian Holzer

Status Report: Gibson missed practice on Thursday with the flu. Boudreau said he is well enough to play, but will back up Andersen as a precaution and take his turn in the rotation at the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday. … Gustavsson was the first goalie off the ice for Boston. 

Who's Hot: Eriksson has three goals and five points in three games. … Bergeron has five goals and eight points in eight games. … Krug has an assist in each of the past four games. … Pastrnak has four goals and five points in five games. … Kesler has one goal and three points in four games. … Andersen is 8-1-1 in his past 10 starts. 

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