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Coyotes' Ekman-Larsson won't play against Canucks

Defenseman will miss first game of season with upper-body injury

by Kevin Woodley / NHL.com Correspondent

COYOTES (28-32-6) at CANUCKS (25-28-12)

TV: 10 p.m. ET; FS-A PLUS, SNP, NHL.TV

VANCOUVER -- Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson won't play against the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday because of an upper-body injury.

Ekman-Larsson, who leads the Coyotes in scoring and is sixth among NHL defensemen with 49 points, is listed as day-to-day after leaving in the third period of a 3-1 loss against the Colorado Avalanche on Monday following a collision with forward Matt Duchene. Ekman-Larsson did not practice in Vancouver on Tuesday and did not take part in the Coyotes' morning skate on Wednesday.

"Doesn't look like he'll play," coach Dave Tippett said, adding he could return for the final two games of a four-game road trip. "He's optimistic. We'll see how it goes."

Defenseman Zbynek Michalek will return to the lineup after not playing Monday and missing two of the past three games with an upper body injury. But Michalek, who also missed practice Tuesday, has no misconceptions about replacing Ekman-Larsson, whose 19 goals are second on the Coyotes and among NHL defensemen.

"He's in my mind one of the top defensemen in the League and you just don't replace that," Michalek said. "Obviously it's a big hole in our lineup without him. When he is out there, other teams always have to be on the lookout. He makes our team so much better. We'll all have to raise our game and step up and try to fill in for him."

Veteran Arizona forward Kyle Chipchura is also expected to return after missing the game Monday for the birth of his first child.

"I pretty much got to the hospital, rinsed off and the baby was coming," said Chipchura, who left the team Monday in Colorado and rejoined them in Vancouver on Tuesday. "It's easily the best day of my life."

The Canucks are still without top center Henrik Sedin and top defenseman Christopher Tanev, who were injured against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday to start a two-game road trip and missed a 5-1 loss against the Los Angeles Kings on Monday.

Vancouver's only lineup change is in goal, where Jacob Markstrom will play ahead of Ryan Miller. Linden Vey will get to center the first line for a second game with Sedin out.

"Tough guy to replace but a great opportunity for me," said Vey, who has five points in his past six games after starting this season in the American Hockey League through mid-December. "In the NHL, your job is never safe and you have to make sure you show up every night. I realize it's never a given. You have to earn it every night."

Here are the projected lineups:

COYOTES

Alex Tanguay - Antoine Vermette - Anthony Duclair

Tobias Rieder - Martin Hanzal - Kyle Chipchura

Max Domi - Brad Richardson - Shane Doan

Jordan Martinook - Boyd Gordon - Viktor Tikhonov

Zbynek Michalek - Connor Murphy

Nicklas Grossmann - Michael Stone

Klas Dahlbeck - Kevin Connauton  

Louis Domingue

Marek Langhamer

Injured: Oliver Ekman-Larsson (upper body), Anders Lindback (Achilles surgery), Mike Smith (abdominal surgery), Joe Vitale (fractured orbital bone)

Scratched: Sergei Plotnikov, Jiri Sekac

Suspended: Jarred Tinordi

CANUCKS

Daniel Sedin - Linden Vey - Emerson Etem

Sven Baertschi - Markus Granlund - Jake Virtanen

Brendan Gaunce - Bo Horvat - Derek Dorsett

Alexandre Burrows - Jared McCann - Radim Vrbata

Dan Hamhuis - Yannick Weber

Ben Hutton - Luca Sbisa

Matt Bartkowski - Alex Biega

Jacob Markstrom

Ryan Miller

Injured: Henrik Sedin (upper body), Christopher Tanev (upper body), Jannik Hansen (ribs), Brandon Sutter (broken jaw), Alexander Edler (fractured tibia)

Status Report: The Canucks have not yet officially announced the signing of 6-foot-8 Russian defenseman Nikita Tryamkin, but on Tuesday night general manager Jim Benning told a gathering of season ticket holders they have signed the 66th pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, and on Wednesday coach Willie Desjardins said he expects the 21-year-old to arrive in Vancouver on Thursday and join the team in practice as early as Friday. "It's going to be exciting to get a look at him," Desjardins said.

Who's Hot: Hamhuis scored in consecutive games after getting his first of the season Saturday in San Jose and also has two assists during a three-game point streak.

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