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At the Rink: Sharks at Ducks

Defenseman Fowler to return to Anaheim lineup Tuesday

by Abbey Mastracco / NHL.com correspondent

ANAHEIM -- Defenseman Cam Fowler will return to the lineup for the Anaheim Ducks against the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday at Honda Center (10 p.m. ET, CSN-CA, PRIME, FS-SD, NHL.TV). 

Fowler missed 13 games with a knee injury and hasn't played since Dec. 27, but practiced with team on their East Coast road trip in January and is well-rested following the All-Star break. Fowler will skate with defenseman Kevin Bieksa against the Sharks.

"He's our best defenseman, so when you lose him it's difficult," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We did a good job without him but we're really happy to have him back. He's a first-pass, moving out of his own zone kind of guy. He can skate and he can defend. All those things are qualities that you sure miss when he's not there." 

Fowler has 12 points in 34 games and leads the team in average ice time with 22:38 per game.

It will mark the first time since the fourth game of the season that the Ducks will have a full compliment of healthy defensemen. Simon Despres, Fowler's usual skating partner, returned to action after missing several games with a concussion on Jan. 26, at the Boston Bruins. Clayton Stoner has yet to be activated from Injured Reserve, but has been skating and participating in practice. 

"It's been a while since we've had everybody together," Boudreau said. "Hopefully it means good things."

Despite the injuries, the Ducks have allowed the fewest goals (25) since returning from the Christmas break. Since then, Anaheim is 10-3-1 and has a three-game winning streak.

The Sharks lead the Ducks by five points in the Pacific Division, having built significant momentum before the All-Star Game. San Jose hasn't lost in regulation since Jan. 7 and has gone 8-0-2 in that span.

"We just want to pick up where we left off," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "I don't know if there are any tricks to it, but I think every coach is happy with a refreshed team. The smartest team usually wins these games. In the first game back, the team that doesn't turn pucks over and stays out of the penalty box usually wins, so that's going to be our focus tonight."

Frederik Andersen was the first goalie off the ice for Anaheim as Boudreau wants to give Gibson a night off following the All-Star Game.

Martin Jones was the first goalie off the ice for San Jose and Danius Zubrus (upper-body) skated on the fourth line with Melker Karlsson and Chris Tierney on Tuesday morning.

Here are the projected lineups:

SHARKS 

Tomas Hertl - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski  

Matt Nieto - Patrick Marleau - Joel Ward  

Joonas Donskoi - Logan Couture - Tommy Wingels  

Melker Karlsson - Chris Tierney - Dainius Zubrus  

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun  

Paul Martin - Brent Burns  

Brenden Dillon - Dylan DeMelo  

Martin Jones 

Alex Stalock  

Injured: none 

Scratched: Mike Brown, Matt Tennyson  

DUCKS 

David Perron - Ryan Getzlaf - Chris Stewart  

Patrick Maroon - Rickard Rakell - Corey Perry  

Andrew Cogliano - Ryan Kesler - Jakob Silfverberg  

Ryan Garbutt - Nate Thompson - Mike Santorelli  

Cam Fowler - Kevin Bieksa  

Hampus Lindholm - Josh Manson  

Simon Despres - Sami Vatanen  

Frederik Andersen 

John Gibson  

Injured: Clayton Stoner 

Scratched: Korbinian Holzer, Shawn Horcoff, Harry Zolnierczyk 

Status Report: Prior to the All-Star break, Anaheim sent defenseman Shea Theodore to San Diego of the American Hockey League … Zolnierczyk was recalled from San Diego on Tuesday … The Sharks sent Raffi Torres to San Jose of the AHL over the weekend … Fowler will skate with Bieksa in his first game back instead of his usual partner Despres. "We have three lefties and three righties," Boudreau said. "So if you switched Simon to the right side, that means you've got two guys playing on their off side." 

Who's Hot: Perron has recorded points in all four games with Anaheim since coming over in a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins on Jan. 15 … Kesler has points in six of the past eight games and three goals in the past two games … Perry also has three goals in the past two games … Pavelski has scored in each of the past three games … Thornton is riding a 10-game point streak (two goals, 12 assists).

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