HURRICANES (17-26-6) at DUCKS (32-12-6)
TV: FS-CR, PRIME
ANAHEIM -- Anaheim Ducks defenseman Eric Brewer will return to the lineup for the first time in two months Tuesday when Anaheim plays the Carolina Hurricanes at Honda Center.
Brewer was acquired by the Ducks in a trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Nov. 28 when Anaheim was missing half of its defensemen, but he broke his foot blocking a shot Nov. 29.
"There's been no shortage of skating, just practicing, practicing, practicing," Brewer said. "So it's nice to get out in a match. There is an element of having not played, so there is that, but I'm pretty confident it's going to be fine."
Brewer, 35, expects some adrenaline at this stage of his career. He is 16 games shy of 1,000 for his career.
"I've thought about it since I've been out, for sure," he said. "But those things play out. You really do just have to play the game and be healthy and work on the short-term progress to get those things."
It's that experience that makes Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau comfortable inserting Brewer, who will be paired with defenseman Sami Vatanen. Defenseman Clayton Stoner reportedly is recovering from a cold.
"He always used to be a good puck mover," Boudreau said. "We haven't really had a chance to see it … if he brings that experience, the way he played in Tampa Bay, when he got traded there and in St. Louis, he was really good. He's had a really good career and we want him to continue that."
Anaheim has lost two straight in regulation for the second time this season and allowed 10 goals in those losses to the San Jose Sharks and Chicago Blackhawks. Boudreau could start goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to save goalie Frederik Andersen for an upcoming five-game trip, but Andersen was first off the ice.
Carolina will start backup goalie Anton Khudobin, coach Bill Peters said. It will be Khudobin's first career start against Anaheim, but Peters threw out the statistics given that Khudobin has won six straight.
"The same thing happened in [Madison Square Garden] earlier [this season]," Peters said. "He never played in MSG and he played a great game. We know all that stuff with the advanced stats and the analytics … but he's been playing very well here lately and he needs an opportunity to play well."
The Hurricanes are on a four-game trip that began with a loss to the New York Rangers but they are 5-2-2 in their past nine games. Peters pointed to the emergence of Eric Staal as a goal-scoring wing that has helped them win more close games.
Carolina is 7-4-2 in games that Eric Staal and center Jordan Staal have played together. Center Victor Rask has also facilitated the move to put the Staal brothers together. Carolina will put them up against what Peters describes as the defensively imposing Ducks.
"They're deep," Peters said. "They've got some high-end guys with their [defensemen] pairs and the acquisition of [center Ryan] Kesler makes them very dangerous there. I like the fact that their three pairs are all puck friendly. They've got a big physical guy and a puck mover in all three pairs. They can play against everybody."
Here are the projected lineups:
Eric Staal – Jordan Staal – Elias Lindholm
Jiri Tlusty – Victor Rask – Alexander Semin
Jeff Skinner – Riley Nash – Nathan Gerbe
Brad Malone – Jay McClement – Patrick Dwyer
Andrej Sekera – Justin Faulk
John-Michael Liles - Tim Gleason
Ron Hainsey – Ryan Murphy
Scratched: Chris Terry, Andrej Nestrasil, Brett Bellemore
Matt Beleskey – Ryan Getzlaf – Corey Perry
Kyle Palmieri – Ryan Kesler – Patrick Maroon
Andrew Cogliano – Rickard Rakell – Jakob Silfverberg
Devante Smith-Pelly – Nate Thompson – Tim Jackman
Cam Fowler – Ben Lovejoy
Hampus Lindholm – Francois Beauchemin
Eric Brewer – Sami Vatanen
Scratched: Rene Bourque, Clayton Stoner
Status report: Lindholm will go back in after he was a healthy scratch against the Rangers… Ward did not skate because of maintenance but he will backup, Peters said … Beleskey and Maroon switched places on the first and second lines.
Who's hot: Maroon is on a career-high six-game point streak with four goals and four assists in that span. Murphy and Malone have a goal and an assist apiece the past two games.