Game 1: PREDATORS at DUCKS
Western Conference First Round
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, FS-TN, PRIME, TVA Sports
ANAHEIM -- The Anaheim Ducks will have a healthy contingent of forwards against the Nashville Predators in Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round at Honda Center on Friday, as David Perron and Rickard Rakell will make their returns.
Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau confirmed that they will be in the lineup after an optional morning skate. With Perron and Rakell available, it allows Boudreau to split center Ryan Getzlaf and right wing Corey Perry to give the Ducks three strong scoring lines.
"I think it makes a big difference for our team," Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano said. "If you have the opportunity to split up Getzlaf and Perry, it makes it a little bit tougher for the other team to defend."
Perron missed the final 11 games of the regular season because of a separated shoulder sustained March 20 against the Winnipeg Jets. He'll play left wing on the top line with Getzlaf and right wing Chris Stewart. Rakell, who had an appendectomy March 30, will center the second line, flanked by Perry and left wing Jamie McGinn.
Perron had eight goals, 20 points and a plus-12 rating in 28 games after being acquired in a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins on Jan. 15. Rakell had his best NHL season with 20 goals and 23 assists in 72 games.
"I think Rakell has been incredible for us this year," Cogliano said. "He's made our team much different in terms of adding another skilled player and a centerman that can play and make plays. Perron has been the same way with Getzlaf. I think it adds another element with our team because you go from having one good line or one really offensive line with Getzlaf and Perry to three of them."
The Predators haven't faced this Ducks lineup. Their three regular-season games were played before December.
"I've played against them for a long, long time and it seems like [Getzlaf and Perry] are always playing together," Predators center Mike Fisher said. "Whoever they're playing with, they make guys around them that much better. They have their reasons but we'll likely see them together at some point in this series."
The Predators are hoping to capitalize on the success they had on the road in the second half of the season; they went 10-0-1 away from Bridgestone Arena between Jan. 21 and March 8.
"There was a part in the middle of the season where I don't think we played very well, but a lot of the pieces are back from last year and we were a good road team last year," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "I think that we've found some success on the road. In the last couple years we've been able to find wins."
Nashville also held an optional morning skate. Pekka Rinne was the first goalie off the ice.
Boudreau said goalie John Gibson will start Game 1 but Frederik Andersen likely will start a game later in the series.
Here are the projected lineups:
Calle Jarnkrok - Ryan Johansen - James Neal
Filip Forsberg - Mike Ribeiro - Craig Smith
Colin Wilson - Mike Fisher - Viktor Arvidsson
Miikka Salomaki - Paul Gaustad - Cody Bass
Roman Josi - Shea Weber
Mattias Ekholm - Ryan Ellis
Barret Jackman - Anthony Bitetto
Scratched: Petter Granberg, Colton Sissons, Eric Nystrom, Austin Watson, Gabriel Bourque
David Perron - Ryan Getzlaf - Chris Stewart
Jamie McGinn - Rickard Rakell - Corey Perry
Andrew Cogliano - Ryan Kesler - Jakob Silfverberg
Ryan Garbutt - Nate Thompson - Shawn Horcoff
Cam Fowler - Kevin Bieksa
Hampus Lindholm - Josh Manson
Simon Despres - Sami Vatanen
Injured: Brandon Pirri (upper body), Clayton Stoner (hip)
Scratched: Korbinian Holzer, Mike Santorelli, Shea Theodore, Chris Wagner
Status report: The Ducks reassigned forward Nick Ritchie to San Diego of the American Hockey League on Friday. … Bieksa skated Friday morning but Boudreau said he's a game-time decision. If Bieksa, who has missed the past nine games because of an upper-body injury, is unable to play, Theodore would be in the lineup and be paired with Vatanen. Despres would take Bieksa's place on the top pairing with Fowler. … Salomaki is expected to return to the lineup after missing the final three regular-season games because of a lower-body injury.
Who's hot: Gibson went 4-2-1 with a 1.78 goals-against average and .937 save percentage while starting the final seven games of the regular season. … Kesler has nine points in his past six games. … Forsberg had two goals and four assists in four games to close the regular season. … Neal had one goal and six assists in a season-ending six-game point streak.