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Flames get experienced Diaz back for Game 3

by Aaron Vickers / NHL.com

CALGARY -- Defenseman Raphael Diaz will return to the Calgary Flames lineup for Game 3 of the Western Conference Second Round series against the Anaheim Ducks at Scotiabank Saddledome on Tuesday (9:30 p.m. ET; USA, SN, TVA Sports).

Coach Bob Hartley confirmed Diaz, who has missed the past 12 games dating to the regular season because of a lower-body injury, will play.

"Diaz is in the lineup," Hartley said. "I thought that before his injury him and David Schlemko were a very solid pair for us. Raphael can give us some power-play play, some solid play in our zone. First pass out of the zone is always great, great shot, and he's a veteran. He's played in this league before, so it's good news."

Diaz is one of few players on Calgary's roster with Stanley Cup Playoff experience.

The 29-year-old has played in nine NHL playoff games, and went to the Stanley Cup Final with the New York Rangers in 2014. He played four games with the Rangers in the playoffs last year, including one in the Final, when New York lost to the Los Angeles Kings in five games.

"Last year I played a few games, and you had a feeling with the whole team," said Diaz, who last played April 2. "It was unbelievable, and this year it's an unbelievable group, and you have a great feeling in the room. It's really nice to play like that and be a part of this team."

His return comes with the Ducks holding a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 series.

"I remember last year we (New York) were back against Pittsburgh 3-1 in the series and we turned it around," Diaz said. "It was unbelievable what energy was in the group after that. It's never over, and you have to win four games to get it done, and it was really fun to look at that. I remember we were down 3-1 and going to Pittsburgh and we turned the series. It was a lot of fun."

The return of Diaz will also help alleviate some of the minutes Calgary's top-three defensemen, Dennis Wideman, Kris Russell and TJ Brodie, will play. Each is among the top 10 in ice time in the playoffs.

"It's going to give us more options," Hartley said. "In terms of minutes, we don't care about minutes. Minutes are not important. If I was working with bombs, maybe minutes and seconds would be important, but in a game I don't care about minutes."

Hartley said forward Micheal Ferland, who left after the first period in Game 1 after sustaining an undisclosed injury and did not play in Game 2, is expected to be a game-time decision.

"I'm ready to go, but it's going to come down to what they think," Ferland said. "I'd rather be out there battling with the boys. It's not fun watching like that. I guess you can take a positive from that and I got to see from up top and learn a few things."

Ferland leads Calgary with 42 hits in the playoffs. Forward David Jones is second with 26.

Here are the projected lineups:

DUCKS

Patrick Maroon - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry

Matt Beleskey - Ryan Kesler - Jakob Silfverberg

Andrew Cogliano - Rickard Rakell - Kyle Palmieri

Emerson Etem - Nate Thompson - Tim Jackman

Hampus Lindholm - Francois Beauchemin

Cam Fowler - Simon Despres

Sami Vatanen - Clayton Stoner

Frederik Andersen

Jason LaBarbera

Scratched: James Wisniewski, Korbinian Holzer, Jiri Sekac, Tomas Fleischmann

Injured: John Gibson (flu)

FLAMES

Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Jiri Hudler

Sam Bennett - Mikael Backlund - Joe Colborne

Micheal Ferland - Matt Stajan - David Jones

Brandon Bollig - Josh Jooris - Mason Raymond

Kris Russell - Dennis Wideman

TJ Brodie - Deryk Engelland

David Schlemko - Raphael Diaz

Karri Ramo

Jonas Hiller

Scratched: Drew Shore, Corey Potter, Markus Granlund, David Wolf, Tyler Wotherspoon

Injured: Ladislav Smid (upper body), Mark Giordano (bicep), Paul Byron (lower body), Lance Bouma (upper body)

Status report: Wolf could dress for a second straight game if Ferland doesn’t play. … Ramo is expected to make his second consecutive start.

Who's hot: Bennett, whose three playoff goals tie him with Hudler for the Flames lead, has Calgary's goal in the series.

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