While the Vancouver Canucks hope to have two of their top three scorers back Sunday night, they might be without their hottest player as they host the lowly Buffalo Sabres.
Daniel Sedin has missed nine straight games with a hamstring injury and Ryan Kesler the last four with a sprained knee, but both practiced this week and could possibly return to the Vancouver lineup. Each has 40 points, six fewer than team leader Henrik Sedin.
Daniel Sedin, however, has gone 12 consecutive games without a point and 22 straight without a goal. Kesler, meanwhile, has a team-high 22 goals but only one in his last six for the Canucks (32-30-10).
Regardless, their collective presence could provide a boost for a team that’s in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time in six seasons and hasn’t won two in a row since Jan. 18-21.
"I have lineups both ways, I’ve always been prepared," said coach John Tortorella, whose team has won four of seven following a 1-10-1 stretch.
"I thought they looked good (in practice)."
The news might not be as optimistic for winger Alexandre Burrows, who was slashed on the hand during Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Nashville.
Limited to 40 games because of foot and jaw injuries, the four-time 25-goal scorer has only five this season, but all of them came in the Canucks’ five games prior to facing the Predators. Burrows’ nine points since March 10 are three more than any teammate.
"It’s just been one of those years for him," Tortorella said. "He finds his game and this happens. I’m not sure whether he misses (games), or if he does how many, but it has been a very difficult time for him."
Tortorella continues to get production from forward Nicklas Jensen, who recorded his first three NHL goals and an assist over the last four games.
"It’s huge," said Jensen, the team’s first-round pick in 2011 who has played seven of his nine NHL games this season. "It’s tough to know what to expect when you get up here."
Vancouver rookie Eddie Lack made 30 saves Wednesday for his fourth shutout after allowing 19 goals in his previous five games.
With former star Roberto Luongo in net, the Canucks won 3-0 at Buffalo on Oct. 17.
Already eliminated from playoff contention, the Sabres (20-42-8) snapped a seven-game skid with a 3-1 win at Edmonton on Thursday. Cory Conacher had two goals with an assist for Buffalo, which had totaled six goals in the previous seven games.
"The way that this year has gone and the challenges we have gone through, we will take any win at this point, regardless of who it is against," said forward Drew Stafford, who has a goal in two straight games and five of seven.
Conacher snapped a 27-game goal drought in his seventh since the Sabres claimed him off waivers from Ottawa.
"Maybe this was the game I needed to open the flood gates a bit," he said. "The most important part was getting the win, though."
Henrik Sedin has five assists in Vancouver’s last three games and seven points in his last five versus Buffalo. Daniel Sedin has a goal with five assists in his last four against the Sabres.