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Ducks' Bieksa returns for Game 2 vs. Predators

Defenseman has been sidelined since March 24 with upper-body injury

by Robby Stanley / Correspondent


Western Conference First Round

Nashville leads best-of-7 series 1-0

TV: 10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports, FS-TN, FS-W

ANAHEIM -- Anaheim Ducks defenseman Kevin Bieksa returns to the lineup for Game 2 of the Western Conference First Round against the Nashville Predators on Sunday at Honda Center. 

Bieksa, who had four goals and 11 assists in 71 games in the regular season, has been sidelined with an upper-body in jury since March 24. Coach Bruce Boudreau labeled the defenseman as "100 percent."

Defenseman Josh Manson did not participate in morning skate Sunday. Mason sustained what Boudreau called a "head and upper-body injury" in the first period of the 3-2 loss in Game 1 on Friday. Mason didn't participate in optional practice Saturday.

Bieksa helps the Ducks make a more physical push in Game 2 and gives them a more competitive edge. Boudreau lamented the team's physicality and effort level after Game 1. He said he felt the Ducks made sloppy mistakes and didn't show enough of a competitive drive. His dressing room said they received the coach's message. 

"I think we've got to compete harder," forward Andrew Cogliano said. "That might mean playing a little more physical but just competing harder is something that we need to do better. I don't think we competed nearly enough for that being our first playoff game. … They out-battled us and they really out-willed us and even though it was a close game, they earned the win more than we did." 

John Gibson was the first goalie off the ice Sunday. He allowed three goals on 30 shots in Game 1. Frederik Andersen, who made 24 saves in a 2-0 win against the Washington Capitals in the regular-season finale, served as his backup.

"Very rarely do they have back-to-back subpar games," Boudreau said. "In the three years that Gibby has been up and down (from the American Hockey League) and the two years that Freddie has been here, if they have what's classified as a subpar game, the next game they've been very good."

The Predators have no questions about which goalie will play. They're relying on Pekka Rinne's playoff experience to help them return to Nashville with a 2-0 series lead. It would be the first time in franchise history that the Predators have held a 2-0 lead in a playoff series.

"He was great in Game 1. I thought he played a terrific hockey game," coach Peter Laviolette said. "There were some chances late in the game, some funny redirects with the goalie pulled and a couple point-blank chances in the second period where he needed to be sharp and keep that game at 2-2. There was a lot of good things that he did. The people in the room and the coaches and everyone back in Nashville realize what we have in a guy like Pekka and what he brings to our locker room." 


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

Pekka Rinne

Carter Hutton

Injured: None

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 - Chris Wagner

Cam Fowler - Kevin Bieksa

Hampus Lindholm - Shea Theodore

Simon Despres - Sami Vatanen

John Gibson

Frederik Andersen

Injured: Brandon Pirri (upper body), Clayton Stoner (hip), Josh Manson (head, upper body)

Scratched: Korbinian Holzer, Mike Santorelli, Shawn Horcoff, Nick Ritchie  

Status report: Ritchie was recalled from San Diego of the AHL on Saturday. … Theodore could play on either the second or third defense pairing. Boudreau liked the Fowler-Despres combination in Game 1 but Fowler has played most of the year with Bieksa. Either way, it appears as if Theodore is still in the lineup for Game 2 as Holzer stayed out on the ice for extra work with the scratches. "[Holzer] was fine, he had a couple bobbles but he moved the puck and he didn't get beat in any situations," Boudreau said. "Two times he gave the puck away in his own zone but there were guys who did a lot worse than that." 

Who's hot: Kesler has four goals in his past five playoff games. … Rinne is 12-5-4 all-time against Anaheim. … Forsberg has seven points in seven career playoff games (five goals, two assists).

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