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Canucks forwards Higgins, Virtanen out against Kings

by Curtis Zupke

CANUCKS (9-9-7) at KINGS (14-8-1)


EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Vancouver Canucks will be without left wing Chris Higgins and right wing Jake Virtanen when they play the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on Tuesday, coach Willie Desjardins told the Canucks website.

Higgins sustained a head injury Monday during a 4-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks and did not participate in an optional morning skate at Staples Center, according to the Vancouver Province. Virtanen sustained an upper-body injury Monday and is day-to-day, Desjardins said.

Vancouver likely will play seven with defensemen. Defenseman Andrey Pedan reportedly took line rushes as a forward and could make his NHL debut there. Left wing Sven Baertschi will play after he was scratched in two of the previous three games.

"There are a lot of guys who could take a shift at forward tonight," Desjardins said. "It's hard to say how it will play out.

"[Defenseman Yannick] Weber has played shifts at forward before so he's there if we need him."

The 6-foot-5, 213-pound Pedan, who was recalled from Utica of the American Hockey League on Nov. 23, has one goal and six assists in 15 AHL games.

Kings defenseman Christian Ehrhoff has one assist in his past four games and has had a positive or even plus/minus rating in three of his past four games since he was scratched four times in a six-game span last month.

"I've been playing better overall," Ehrhoff said after the morning skate at Toyota Sports Center. "I think the defensive side of the game, where I have to make some adjustments from the way I played before to what is expected of me here, I think it's taken some time. But it's getting to the point where it's getting a lot better."

Turnovers and mistakes in the defensive end forced Kings coach Darryl Sutter to take Ehrhoff out of the lineup. But Ehrhoff has formed a consistent partnership with defenseman Jamie McBain on the third pairing.

Sutter said he liked Ehrhoff's game against the Chicago Blackhawks last Saturday and wants to see more of it.

"He's a veteran player that's still got a good skill set," Sutter said. "It's not any different than it was Oct. 1. You're looking for consistency and you're looking for guys who play to win and do it every night."

Ehrhoff played for the Canucks for two seasons and got to know left wing Daniel Sedin and center Henrik Sedin.

"Some people don't give them enough credit because they are maybe not as big and physical as the other guys," he said. "But when you look at stats they are right there on top with some of the other greats that have played in this game."

Here are the projected lineups:


Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Jannik Hansen

Sven Baertschi - Bo Horvat - Alexandre Burrows

Andrey Pedan - Jared McCann - Radim Vrbata

Brandon Prust - Adam Cracknell - Derek Dorsett

Alexander Edler - Christopher Tanev

Dan Hamhuis - Yannick Weber

Luca Sbisa - Matt Bartkowski

Jacob Markstrom

Ryan Miller

Injured: Jake Virtanen (upper body), Chris Higgins (upper body), Brandon Sutter (undisclosed), Ben Hutton (lower body)

Scratched: Danny Biega


Milan Lucic - Jeff Carter - Tyler Toffoli

Tanner Pearson - Anze Kopitar - Marian Gaborik

Dustin Brown - Nick Shore - Trevor Lewis

Kyle Clifford - Andy Andreoff - Jordan Nolan

Brayden McNabb - Drew Doughty

Jake Muzzin - Alec Martinez

Christian Ehrhoff - Jamie McBain

Jonathan Quick

Jhonas Enroth

Injured: Dwight King (foot), Matt Greene (shoulder)

Scratched: Jordan Weal, Derek Forbort

Status report: Vancouver recalled Biega from Utica of the AHL on Tuesday but it's unclear if he'll arrive in time for the game. … Markstrom is expected to start after Miller played Monday. … There were no line changes for the Kings. ... The Kings announced Tuesday that Greene will have shoulder surgery Thursday and is out indefinitely.

Who's hot: Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin combined for 30 points in nine games before Monday. Henrik Sedin had 10 points during a six-game point streak that ended Monday, and Daniel Sedin had 12 points during a seven-game streak that ended. … Lucic and Carter each has three points in the past three games. … Gaborik has three goals and one assist in the past two home games.

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