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Vermette returns to Coyotes lineup against Canucks

by Jerry Brown / NHL.com

CANUCKS (4-2-4) at COYOTES (5-4-1)

TV: SNP, SNV, FS-A+

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Coyotes will have center Antoine Vermette back in the lineup Friday against the Vancouver Canucks.

Vermette, who missed the past three games with a lower-body injury, took part in the morning skate, centering a line with Tobias Rieder and Anthony Duclair. The Coyotes will also have defenseman Connor Murphy back playing with partner Nicklas Grossmann after Murphy missed the 6-0 loss against the Boston Bruins on Tuesday with a lingering lower-body injury.

Vancouver, which didn't skate Friday, announced forward Brandon Prust will miss 4-6 weeks with an ankle injury. He sustained the injury in a collision with Montreal Canadians forward Brian Flynn during the second period of a Canucks win Tuesday.

Vermette, re-signed by Arizona as a free agent after helping the Chicago Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup last season, has no points and nine shots in seven games. He missed three games with an injury he said he had been playing through before it finally ended his 482-game ironman streak which had been the second-longest active streak in the League.

They remain without center Martin Hanzal, whose 10 points are tied with forward Max Domi for the Coyotes lead. Hanzal, who is dealing with a lower-body injury, skated on his own Thursday and could be back when the Coyotes return from five days off to play against the Colorado Avalanche on Nov. 5.

"[Hanzal] isn't ready," coach Dave Tippett said. "We feel like the depth at our center position is pretty good, but when you take Marty and Vermette out of it, that's going to weaken anyone. Marty plays big minutes against other teams' top players and both sides of special teams. You need several other people to take pieces of that to make up for it."

Tyler Gaudet will stay in the lineup for Arizona, playing on the wing with Boyd Gordon and Steve Downie.

Goalie Mike Smith will make his 10th start in 11 games. Richard Bachman will see his first action of the season in goal for Vancouver as Ryan Miller, who has played every minute of all 10 games so far, gets the night off.

The Coyotes have played four sets of back-to-back games already this season but they get a break Friday; the Canucks lost for the fourth time in the past five games, 4-3 in overtime, to the Dallas Stars on Thursday.

The Coyotes are 4-2-1 in seven road games this season but haven't won at Gila River Arena (1-2-0) since a 2-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Oct. 10 season opener. Tippett said his players had a lot of jump after a few off days and should be read for their only game in a stretch of nine days.

"We recognize the importance of this game because we get a long break," he said. "It's been a hard first month for our team. We've come out of it pretty well, but we need some practice time and some rest. But first, all the focus is on this game and getting a win so you can enjoy the break."

Here are the projected lineups:

CANUCKS

Daniel SedinHenrik SedinRadim Vrbata

Sven BaertschiBo HorvatJannik Hansen

Alexandre BurrowsBrandon SutterJake Virtanen

Brendan GaunceJared McCannDerek Dorsett

Alexander EdlerChristopher Tanev

Ben HuttonYannick Weber

Luca Sbisa - Matt Bartkowski

Ryan Miller

Richard Bachman

Injured: Dan Hamhuis (lower body), Chris Higgins (foot), Jacob Markstrom (lower body), Brandon Prust (ankle)

Scratched: Alex Biega, Adam Cracknell

COYOTES

Tobias RiederAntoine VermetteAnthony Duclair

Max DomiKyle ChipchuraMikkel Boedker

Jordan MartinookBrad RichardsonShane Doan

Tyler GaudetBoyd GordonSteve Downie

Oliver Ekman-LarssonMichael Stone

Klas DahlbeckZbynek Michalek

Nicklas GrossmannConnor Murphy

Mike Smith

Anders Lindback

Injured: Joe Vitale (upper body), Martin Hanzal (lower body)

Scratched: John Scott, Stefan Elliott

Status update: Vitale, who sustained upper-body injures against the Boston Bruins on Oct. 17, is still not with the Coyotes and remains on the injured list.

Who's hot: Boedker had four goals and six points for Arizona on the five-game road trip. … Three of Arizona's past six shutout wins have come against Vancouver. … Duclair leads the NHL in shooting percentage at 41.7 percent, scoring on five of his 12 shots. … Vrbata, who played 428 games for the Coyotes, has three goals in his past four games.

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