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Palmieri expected to return for Ducks against Blues

by Curtis Zupke / NHL.com

BLUES (22-12-3) at DUCKS (24-9-6)

TV: FS-MW, PRIME

ANAHEIM – The Anaheim Ducks and St. Louis Blues are expected to get key pieces back in their respective lineups when they play Friday at Honda Center.

Ducks right wing Kyle Palmieri said he is ready to return from a shoulder injury and Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarsson said he is ready after he missed nine games with a concussion.

Palmieri took line rushes with left wing Matt Beleskey and center Ryan Kesler. Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said Palmieri is a game-time decision but Palmieri indicated he was available after he missed the previous six games because of a hit by Peter Holland of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

It's been a rough go for Palmieri, who also missed the first 18 games of the season with a high ankle sprain.

"You train all summer to try to get your body ready for the season, and I've obviously had a couple of tough breaks here early on, and right now I'm just looking forward to being healthy again and being back in the lineup," Palmieri said.

Palmieri is one of the Ducks' power-play specialists, and Anaheim is on a 0-for-21 power-play streak over the past seven games.

"He's a natural goal scorer," Boudreau said. "That's what he does. Unfortunately when he got hurt, he was just starting to round into shape because he was hurt the first six weeks to start the season. He had five goals in 15 games … hopefully we can get that back so it gives us a little bit more balance in scoring."

Gunnarsson has also been set back, first because of recovery from offseason hip surgery earlier this season and then the concussion.

"I'll be a little bit nervous before I get those first shifts out of the way," Gunnarsson said. "I feel good. That's a way to get some energy too."

St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said Gunnarsson was "arguably playing the best of anybody on the back end" before he got hurt.

"We're hopeful he can get up to speed quickly," Hitchcock said. "It took him three or four games the last time before he got up to speed, but he was a real asset for us. He really was playing well."

Hitchcock will also put center Colin Fraser in the lineup for "grit, determination and moxie that we need." Fraser was recalled from the American Hockey League and has not played an NHL game since Feb.3, 2014 with the Los Angeles Kings.

"I feel like I can fit in the way I did in L.A.," Fraser said. "I've just got to make something of an opportunity and re-establish myself. Play well and the rest takes care of itself."

Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf was named the NHL's First Star of the Month. Getzlaf led all players with 20 points, the most ever in December by an Anaheim player. Perhaps more impressive is that Getzlaf had six goals and 19 points in 14 games without linemate Corey Perry, who missed 15 games with the mumps and a sprained knee.

Getzlaf said Perry's absence didn't play a big part in his numbers.

"I try to be the same person all the time," Getzlaf said. "It doesn't always work that way. You sometimes have to adjust things that you do, but for the most part I'm going to try to play the same way every night."

St. Louis is 0-3-1 in its past four road games and has lost eight straight at Honda Center, dating to its last win Nov. 5, 2009.

Here are the projected lineups:

BLUES

Alexander SteenDavid BackesT.J. Oshie

Jori LehteraPaul StastnyVladimir Tarasenko

Dmitrij JaskinPatrik BerglundRyan Reaves

Steve OttColin Fraser - Maxim Lapierre

Jay BouwmeesterAlex Pietrangelo

Carl GunnarssonKevin Shattenkirk

Barret JackmanIan Cole

Martin Brodeur

Brian Elliott

Scratched: Joakim Lindstrom, John McCarthy, Chris Butler, Jake Allen

Injured: Jaden Schwartz (foot), Chris Porter (leg)

DUCKS

Devante Smith-PellyRyan GetzlafCorey Perry

Matt BeleskeyRyan KeslerKyle Palmieri

Andrew CoglianoRickard RakellJakob Silfverberg

Patrick MaroonNate ThompsonTim Jackman

Cam FowlerBen Lovejoy

Hampus LindholmFrancois Beauchemin

Clayton StonerSami Vatanen

Frederik Andersen

Ilya Bryzgalov

Scratched: Rene Bourque, Colby Robak, Mark Fistric

Injured: Eric Brewer (foot)

Status report: Boudreau reunited Rakell with Cogliano and Silfverberg in the line rushes. Andersen was off the ice first and will make his 25th start in 26 games. Left wing Emerson Etem was expected to be re-assigned to the American Hockey League. Brodeur is 4-0-0 with a 1.70 goals-against average in his past four games against Anaheim. Hitchcock said Elliott, who is coming off a career-high-tying 44-save game, will serve as the backup. Butler stayed out for extra work and appears to be the odd defenseman out. Hitchcock said Schwartz is a day away from returning.

Who's hot: Oshie has a goal and two assists in his past three games. Getzlaf had his eight-game point streak end but has four goals and nine assists in his past nine games. Smith-Pelly has three assists in his past four games.

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