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Clifford expects to return for Kings in Game 4

by Curtis Zupke

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Kyle Clifford could return to the Los Angeles Kings' lineup for Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the San Jose Sharks when the series resumes Tuesday (10 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS).

Clifford skated with the fourth line in practice Monday, with Brad Richardson and Colin Fraser, and indicated he will be in for Game 4.

"It definitely looks that way," Clifford said. "It feels good to get back in the lineup. Playing with those guys, it's going to be a lot of fun."

Coach Darryl Sutter said that "everybody that's on the ice is available. At some point it will be good to have him back."

Clifford has been out since May 8 with an undisclosed injury. He is believed to have been cleared for contact Sunday.

"I don't think there's going to be any limitations," he said. "It's just going to be just go out there and play like I was playing before."

A hard-nosed forward, Clifford had a breakout Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2011 when he had three goals and two assists while playing on a line with Brad Richardson and Wayne Simmonds against San Jose.

"He's an easy player to play with," Richardson said of Clifford. "He does a lot of the things that guys sometimes don't want to do. He's always in the corners, battling, hitting guys. He's a very important player."

If Clifford plays, rookie Tanner Pearson likely would come out. Sutter on Monday also stuck with Trevor Lewis at his natural center position with rookie Tyler Toffoli at right wing.

The Kings returned home for the two off days and held a full practice.

Off the ice, team captain Dustin Brown said it was an honor to be nominated again for the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award, for "leadership qualities to his team, on and off the ice during the regular season." Brown was runner-up last year and won the community-based NHL Foundation Award in 2011.

The other candidates for the Messier award were Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks and Daniel Alfredsson of the Ottawa Senators.

"It's not something you go out and look for, I guess," Brown said. "To be among Toews and Alfredsson in that group was special."

Here were the line rushes the Kings used Monday:

Dustin Brown - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams/Jordan Nolan

Dwight King - Mike Richards - Jeff Carter

Dustin Penner - Trevor Lewis - Tyler Toffoli

Kyle Clifford - Colin Fraser - Brad Richardson

Tanner Pearson - Linden Vey - Anthony Stewart

Robyn Regehr - Drew Doughty

Rob Scuderi - Slava Voynov

Jake Muzzin - Keaton Ellerby

Matt Greene - Alec Martinez

Jonathan Quick

Jonathan Bernier

Jean-Francois Berube

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