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Pettersson likely won't play for Canucks against Sabres

Rookie center improving but expected to miss fifth straight game with sprained right knee @NHLdotcom

Elias Pettersson is likely to miss his fifth straight game for the Vancouver Canucks when they host the Buffalo Sabres at Rogers Arena on Friday (10 p.m. ET; SNP, MSG-B, NHL.TV).

The rookie center sprained his right knee when he got tangled up with Montreal Canadiens forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi during the second period of a 2-0 loss on Jan. 3.

Coach Travis Green said he did not watch Pettersson skate at Vancouver's optional practice Thursday but has said he wants the 20-year-old to get through a full practice before he plays again.

"I don't anticipate it," Green said when asked whether Pettersson would play against the Sabres, adding that he didn't consider the workout Thursday a full practice.

Pettersson said after practice that he didn't want to rush back and risk further injury.

"I would rather rest one day extra to be 100 percent," he said. "I need to get in game shape. Overall stickhandling, passing has been a little off because I have been away for 2-3 weeks now. The injury feels good. It's not 100 percent yet, but like we said it's day by day."

Video: VAN@CGY: Pettersson rips shot far side to tie it

He skated for 40 minutes on his own Tuesday and took part in an optional morning skate Wednesday before Vancouver's 3-2 shootout loss to the Edmonton Oilers before skating at the optional practice Thursday.

Pettersson had said Wednesday he had hoped to return against Buffalo, and that he hopes to play in the 2019 Honda NHL All-Star Game in San Jose on Jan. 26 (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS). Asked if he planned to attend All-Star Weekend, Pettersson said, "Yeah, of course, of course."

Pettersson, who was selected by Vancouver with the No. 5 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, leads the Canucks in scoring and is tops among NHL rookies with 42 points (22 goals, 20 assists) in 38 games.

The Canucks (21-21-6) are one point behind the Minnesota Wild (23-20-3) for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.

Pettersson's return would bolster the Canucks, who are 1-2-2 in their past five games after going 9-3-1 in their previous 13.

Green said he expects center Bo Horvat to be able to play against the Sabres after sustaining a charley horse in the loss to Edmonton. The Oilers also recalled forward Tanner Kero from Utica of the American Hockey League on Thursday. correspondent Kevin Woodley contributed to this report

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