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Oilers' Nugent-Hopkins to play vs. Canucks

by Derek Van Diest

CANUCKS (2-0-0) at OILERS (0-3-1)


EDMONTON -- Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will return to the lineup Friday against the Vancouver Canucks as the Oilers search for their first win of the season.

Nugent-Hopkins sustained an upper-body injury Saturday in Vancouver against the Canucks on a hit from defenseman Dan Hamhuis. The hit led to Nugent-Hopkins' first NHL fight, against Hamhuis.

"It was a physical game which led up to that hit," Nugent-Hopkins said. "The hit kind of jarred me there. I was just a little bit banged up in the upper-body region.

"I thought the fight was all right. Neither of us are exactly fighters, but I don't think it was a lopsided thing one way or the other and that's always a positive thing when you get into your first fight. But I've been in the League for a few years and you see a lot of fights and you kind of understand what you need to do. I just tried to protect myself as much as possible and I tried to get in as many in as I could."

Nugent-Hopkins finished the game against the Canucks but sat out the next two. He has an assist in two games this season and will start Friday on the Oilers' second line, between Teddy Purcell and Nail Yakupov.

"We'll see how it goes. It's been a few days off now for me," Nugent-Hopkins said. "It'll be good to get back out there and back into game shape. I haven't missed too much time, which is a good thing. I've been practicing for the past few days now so it's good. I don't want to feel my way into the game too much. I just want to get my legs going and get some energy right away."

Along with Nugent-Hopkins, the Oilers will also insert defenseman Martin Marincin into the lineup. Marincin was recalled from the Oklahoma City Barons of the American Hockey League earlier Friday. To make room the Oilers returned defenseman Darnell Nurse to his junior team, the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League.

"[Nurse] couldn't do any more. He played as well as he could,' Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "But this is what's best for him and what's best for our organization in the long run. The best thing for him is to play against his peers for now."

The Canucks have not played since beating Edmonton 5-4 in a shootout Saturday.

"It's tough," Canucks captain Henrik Sedin said. "You would like to have this layoff in December or January, maybe. We've had a layoff like this once before, I remember. You can practice as much as you want to but to be in the game is something different.

"When you practice for a long time, then come into a game, the tempo is a little bit quicker, it's a little bit tougher at first. It might be tough for us the first period or so but we're going to try and hang in there and play as well as we can."

Goaltender Ben Scrivens will make his second consecutive start for the Oilers; Ryan Miller starts in goal for the Canucks.

Here are the projected lineups:


Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Radim Vrbata

Chris Higgins - Nick Bonino - Alexandre Burrows

Brad Richardson - Linden Vey - Zack Kassian

Derek Dorsett - Shawn Matthias - Jannik Hansen

Alexander Edler - Christopher Tanev

Dan Hamhuis - Luca Sbisa

Ryan Stanton - Kevin Bieksa

Ryan Miller

Eddie Lack

Scratched: Tom Sestito, Yannick Weber

Injured: Bo Horvat (shoulder)


Taylor Hall - Mark Arcobello - Jordan Eberle

Teddy Purcell - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Nail Yakupov

Benoit Pouliot - Leon Draisaitl - David Perron

Matt Hendricks - Boyd Gordon - Jesse Joensuu

Andrew Ference - Jeff Petry

Nikita Nikitin - Justin Schultz

Martin Marincin - Mark Fayne

Ben Scrivens

Richard Bachman

Scratched: Brad Hunt, Will Acton

Injured: Viktor Fasth (groin), Luke Gazdic (shoulder)

Status report: The game against the Canucks is the first of a seven-game homestand for the Oilers. It also is the first of back-to-back games for the Canucks, who return home to host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.

Who's hot: Hall has three goals and one assist in his first four games. … Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin each have four points in their first two games.

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