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Ducks' Stoner healthy for Game 7 against Predators

Hip injury has sidelined Anaheim defenseman during playoffs

by Abbey Mastracco / NHL.com Correspondent

Game 7: PREDATORS at DUCKS

Western Conference First Round

Best-of-7 series tied 3-3

TV: 10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports, SN, FS-TN, FS-W

ANAHEIM -- Anaheim Ducks defenseman Clayton Stoner will likely make his first Stanley Cup Playoff appearance against the Nashville Predators in Game 7 of the Western Conference First Round at Honda Center on Wednesday. 

Stoner missed 20 regular-season games with a hip injury that he was still dealing with during the early part of the postseason. But he said the hip is a non-issue, and he's healthy and ready to play.

"I was probably at my worse early in the season when I was playing through some lower-body stuff but that's kind of been cleared up and I've got the legs feeling good," Stoner said. "I'm not having those hip/groin issues that slow me down out there. Right now I feel like I should be on top of my game." 

Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau has lauded Stoner's past playoff performances and is impressed with his aggressive yet smart play. With a healthy Stoner, the Ducks will have another veteran presence and a big, physical body on the blue line. 

Video: Do or Die for Ducks and Preds

"I think my style compliments the playoffs," Stoner said. "I'm just trying to play mistake-free. It's one of those games that you get up for and for some reason, I tend to play my best hockey in the playoffs."

The Ducks have been eliminated in Game 7 at home in their past three playoff appearances. Though Boudreau joked he was up all night pacing, his players were trying to keep their emotions under control. 

"Of course you have to be a little more cautious in Game 7. You can't be taking too big of chances. But still, it's just a game of hockey," Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm said. "You can't go out there and pretend it's some special, special game because it's just a hockey game. I'm just going to go out there and do what I do best."

The Predators are relatively inexperienced in Game 7s compared to the Ducks with six players on the roster having played in one. But some believe that Game 6 was good preparation for Game 7. Despite the magnitude of the game, the Predators, much like Lindholm and the Ducks, aren't trying to put too much weight on one single game. 

"To be honest, it actually feels the same as Game 6," Predators forward Ryan Johansen said. "The only difference is that it's a Game 7. Like we all said and we all know, it's do-or-die now and we'll see what happens." 

Here are the projected lineups:

PREDATORS

Filip Forsberg - Ryan Johansen - James Neal

Calle Jarnkrok - Mike Ribeiro - Craig Smith

Colin Wilson - Mike Fisher - Viktor Arvidsson

Miikka Salomaki - Paul Gaustad - Colton Sissons

Roman Josi - Shea Weber

Mattias Ekholm - Ryan Ellis

Barret Jackman - Anthony Bitetto

Pekka Rinne

Carter Hutton

Injured: Cody Bass (lower body)

Scratched: Petter Granberg, Eric Nystrom, Gabriel Bourque

DUCKS

David Perron - Ryan Getzlaf - Ryan Garbutt

Andrew Cogliano - Ryan Kesler - Jakob Silfverberg

Nate Thompson - Ricard Rakell - Corey Perry

Jamie McGinn - Shawn Horcoff - Chris Stewart

Cam Fowler - Kevin Bieksa

Hampus Lindholm - Simon Despres  

Clayton Stoner - Sami Vatanen

Frederik Andersen

John Gibson

Injured: Brandon Pirri (upper body), Josh Manson (upper body)

Scratched: Korbinian Holzer, Shea Theodore, Nick Ritchie

Status report: The Ducks did not take line rushes Wednesday but are expected to use the same forwards from Game 6. … Stoner will likely play on the third defense pairing with Vatanen. The two have played together the past two seasons. … Should Stoner get in, Theodore will likely be scratched. … Sissons is expected to play on the Predators' fourth line in place of Bass. 

Who's hot: Wilson has points in four of six games in the series. … Weber, Ekholm and Neal each have two goals. … Weber has four total points. … Perry and Silfverberg each have four assists. … Getzlaf has five points. … Kesler has three goals. … Andersen's .955 save percentage is the third-best mark in the postseason.

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