KINGS (21-11-2) at CANUCKS (14-14-9)
TV: FS-W, SNP
VANCOUVER -- The Los Angeles Kings might not have leading scorer Jeff Carter for their game Monday but they aren't likely to get any sympathy from their opponent, the injury-riddled Vancouver Canucks.
Carter left shortly after the opening faceoff of a 4-3 win against the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday with an upper-body injury, but the Kings' second-line center rejoined the team in Vancouver after returning to Los Angeles, reportedly to be further evaluated. Carter, who did not skate Monday, vaguely disputed why he left but wouldn't share much about his injury or availability against the Canucks.
"Well, you guys don't really know what the full story was, so if it's that I flew home to be evaluated we can run with that. … I was going home either way," Carter said. "I feel alright. We'll see what happens, I don't really know."
Coach Darryl Sutter said Carter is day-to-day. He got caught up with Arizona center Antoine Vermette on the opening faceoff and only played one short shift after that to test the injury.
"We just got tangled up on the draw; it was kind of a freak thing, there was nothing that could have prevented it," Carter said. "I had to try it, right, see how it feels; just didn't have it."
Carter leads the Kings with 28 points and is second in goals (11) and ice time among forwards with an average of 18:31 that includes time on the power play and penalty kill.
Rookie center Jordan Weal, who is from Vancouver and grew up watching the Canucks, is expected to be in the lineup for his 10th NHL game Monday, but it appears second-year center Nick Shore will take Carter's spot on the second line. Replacing all of Carter's minutes and roles will require a group effort.
"[Carter] is obviously a good player and he does a lot of things for this team, especially things guys don't notice, so it's got to be an effort from everyone," Shore said. "He does everything, it's not just his scoring. He takes a lot of key faceoffs in his own end, penalty kills a lot. He's out there in all situations, so it's a void."
The Canucks have also had a lot of voids to fill lately.
Vancouver will be without top-pair defenseman Christopher Tanev and No. 1 goalie Ryan Miller for a second straight game, and was already missing regulars Dan Hamhuis and Luca Sbisa on defense. The Canucks will get back forwards Alexandre Burrows, a surprise scratch against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday with a stiff neck, and Chris Higgins, who missed two games with an undisclosed injury.
Captain Henrik Sedin will also continue to play through an undisclosed injury that forced him to miss two games before Christmas, prevented him from taking faceoffs or even sitting down between shifts Saturday, and kept him away from practice Sunday.
"I'm going to play, so it feels better," Sedin said after skating Monday. "It's happened before. I have been through national team tournaments that I haven't been able to sit down, so that's not a big deal. It's more on the ice, not being able to take faceoffs the way I want to, but it's something we work on every day and it's getting better. It's back to normal after games, so I think it's something I can play through and get better."
Here are the projected lineups:
Milan Lucic - Anze Kopitar - Tyler Toffoli
Tanner Pearson - Nick Shore - Marian Gaborik
Trevor Lewis - Andy Andreoff - Dustin Brown
Michael Mersch - Jordan Weal - Jordan Nolan
Brayden McNabb - Drew Doughty
Jake Muzzin - Alec Martinez
Christian Ehrhoff - Jamie McBain
Injured: Jeff Carter (upper body), Matt Greene (shoulder), Dwight King (foot), Kyle Clifford (upper body)
Scratched: Derek Forbort
Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Jannik Hansen
Sven Baertschi - Bo Horvat - Radim Vrbata
Chris Higgins - Jared McCann - Alexandre Burrows
Brandon Prust - Linden Vey - Derek Dorsett
Alexander Edler - Alex Biega
Ben Hutton - Yannick Weber
Andrey Pedan - Matt Bartkowski
Injured: Ryan Miller (undisclosed), Christopher Tanev (lower body), Dan Hamhuis (facial surgery), Luca Sbisa (hand), Brandon Sutter (sports hernia surgery)
Scratched: Ronalds Kenins, Ashton Sautner, Adam Cracknell
Status report: The Canucks called Sautner up from the American Hockey League on Sunday as a depth option on defense but he won't play against the Kings and coach Willie Desjardins said Tanev, who was hurt blocking a shot against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Dec. 22, is still day-to-day. Miller is also day-to-day but hasn't skated since cramping up during a shootout against the Florida Panthers on Dec. 20 and Desjardins said he could be out another week. … Enroth is expected to start the second half of back-to-back games against the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday.
Who's hot: Despite the injury, Sedin has points in three of his last four games, and was only held without a point when he only played 5:08 against the Philadelphia Flyers on Dec. 17. … Toffoli has two goals and an assist in his past two games and three goals and two assists in the past five.