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McDavid will return for Oilers against Kings

Center missed past six games after sustaining left quad injury

by Derek Van Diest / Independent Correspondent

EDMONTON -- Connor McDavid will return to the Edmonton Oilers lineup on Sunday when they play the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center (10 p.m. ET; FS-W, SNW, NHL.TV).

The center missed the past six games with a left quad injury, sustained falling into the end boards during the second period of a 2-1 win against the Nashville Predators on Feb. 8. McDavid finished the game but has not played since. 

"You just want to be pain free and feel 100 percent or as close to it as possible," McDavid said following practice Saturday. "I'm definitely working towards that and feeling pretty good."

McDavid is fifth in the NHL with 81 points (30 goals, 51 assists) in 55 games.

When announcing the injury on Feb. 11, Edmonton general manager Ken Holland said McDavid was expected to be out 2-3 weeks and that the injury was unrelated to the knee injury sustained in the regular-season finale last season against the Calgary Flames. Saturday was two weeks since he injured his quad. 

"You talk to him and he's watched six games now and he's anxious to get back in," coach Dave Tippett said Saturday. "He thinks the guys have worked awful hard and he just wants to do his part. For him it's not about individual stuff, it's about getting our team more points in the standings."

The Oilers (32-22-7), who lost 5-3 to the Minnesota Wild on Friday, were 3-2-1 without McDavid. They are third in the Pacific Division, one point behind the Vancouver Canucks and one point ahead of the Arizona Coyotes. 

"It's never fun to have to watch your team play any game," McDavid said. "[Friday] night was no different, it's obviously frustrating when you feel you're pretty close to playing and you're still sitting out games and you know you could have added something to the game. It's always frustrating, but it is what it is."

Edmonton is still missing five regulars in its lineup. The Oilers are also missing forwards Zack Kassian (suspension), James Neal (foot) and Joakim Nygard (hand), and defensemen Kris Russell (concussion) and Oscar Klefbom (shoulder).

"Obviously he's our leader, and since he's been out, I think we've done a pretty good job of playing hard and being a hard team to play against," center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said of McDavid, the Oilers captain. "But having him back will definitely be a big boost for us."

McDavid did not miss a game with his knee injury, rehabbing during the offseason and returning in time for the season opener. In 2015-16, his rookie season, McDavid missed 37 games with a broken clavicle after he crashed into the end boards in a game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Nov. 3, 2015. 

McDavid said he was not sure how long it would take him to feel 100 percent.  

"There is no real answer to that question. Sometimes you come back and you feel great," he said. "I remember coming back from my collarbone I felt great right away. When I came back from my knee in the summer I didn't feel so good early on. It's kind of a moving target and you never know what you're going to feel like until you get out there, and that's why you put in all the work coming back."

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