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Palmieri could be back in Ducks lineup for Game 3

by Curtis Zupke

ANAHEIM -- Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau contemplated a lineup tweak during two days off and it appears wing Kyle Palmieri could return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Palmieri skated with center Nick Bonino and wing Devante Smith-Pelly in practice Wednesday. Palmieri seems a logical choice for Anaheim, which has scored three goals in losing the first two games of the best-of-7 Western Conference Second Round series against the Los Angeles Kings.

Game 3 is Thursday at Staples Center (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS).

"[Palmieri] scored 14 goals during the year and I don't think he averaged more than 10 minutes a game (11:56)," Boudreau said. "He's definitely got an above-average shot. And when he's feeling it, he's really good. He got five points in seven games in the playoffs last year for us. He's definitely an option."

Palmieri intermittently fell out of Anaheim's busy bottom-six forward rotation during the season, but his seat in the press box in the postseason is notable. He has not played since April 23, Game 4 of the first-round series against the Dallas Stars that the Ducks won in six.

"If I do get the chance to be in the lineup, I want to bring as much energy as possible and do whatever it takes to make the team successful," Palmieri said. "Whether that's just driving to the net or having that energy, or hopefully putting a couple into the net, so we'll see tomorrow night."

Palmieri's career-high 14 goals included four game-winners in his 71 games (he was scratched nine times and missed two because of injury). Late in the season, Palmieri briefly formed an effective line with Bonino, his linemate in the American Hockey League, and Daniel Winnik.

Boudreau, who opted for size with Smith-Pelly and Emerson Etem in the first two games against the Kings, had a unique way of saying Palmieri (5-foot-11, 195 pounds) can bang with their rival.

"He can skate," Boudreau said. "And for a non-tall guy, he's like a little fireplug out there. He's 200 pounds that can skate. He's not a soft player."

Anaheim held an up-tempo practice that ended with blue line-to-red line conditioning sprints. The extra day off was welcome.

"It was a great practice, [and] that day off kind of helps rejuvenate the body, let go of Game 2," forward Corey Perry said. "When our team is happy and smiling, we're a happy group and a confident group. That's what I like to see when we're finished with practice."

Anaheim packed up and boarded a bus for downtown Los Angeles, where they will stay in a hotel Wednesday. They are closer to the rink for the morning skate, and it makes it feel like more of a road game, so they can eliminate distractions and concentrate on avoiding a 3-0 deficit.

"This is it," forward Andrew Cogliano said. "It's desperation time for us. It's a bad situation, but it's not a terrible situation that we're in, because we feel like our game is pretty good right now … we feel like, physically, we're in the series with them. Defensively, we're playing solid hockey. We're doing a lot of what we want to do against them, in terms of game plan, it's just a matter of scoring some goals and getting timely goals."

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