Edler expected to return for Canucks, who are desperate for wins

Desperate for wins to get back in the playoff race, the Vancouver Canucks (14-18-3) should get a boost tonight against the Kings with the return of defenseman Alex Edler.

“I’ve felt good the last few days,” said Edler, who’s missed 13 games with a broken finger. “I’m looking forward to returning tonight.”

The Canucks still have injuries on the back end, most notably to Erik Gudbranson. But if Edler does return, it will mark the first time since Nov. 2 that he and Chris Tanev, Vancouver’s two best defensemen, will both be in the lineup.

Of course, it’s not all good news on the injury front. Winger Jannik Hansen is sidelined again, and that means Jayson Megna will join the Sedin twins on the first line — quite the opportunity for a 26-year-old with just nine career NHL goals.

“I’m super excited to skate with the Sedins,” said Megna. “I was on their line when I scored two goals in Tampa Bay.”

The Canucks have a very important stretch ahead of them. They host the Kings tonight, the Ducks Friday, then play Saturday in Edmonton. After that, it’s three more home games against Colorado, Arizona, and Calgary.

If they’re not back in the race by the end of that stretch, well, let’s just say things could get interesting in Vancouver. After all, the Canucks had higher expectations for themselves than most prognosticators had.

“I like our goaltending, I like our defense now and I like our center ice,” GM Jim Benning said back in October. “I can’t wait until the season starts.”

And yet, this season has looked a lot like last season, when injuries and a dearth of talent sunk the Canucks. Management had hoped the additions of Loui Eriksson and Gudbranson would help, but both players have under-delivered. Eriksson has just six goals in 35 games; Gubranson, when healthy, found it a struggle to make an impact in the defensive end.

Related: The Canucks have a big decision to make with Erik Gudbranson

Auston Matthews’ 33rd goal includes a dash of comedy (Video)

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This wouldn’t have been worth a chuckle if not for the correction. (Well, maybe a chuckle at Auston Matthews‘ expense.)

On the 33rd goal of his brilliant rookie season, Auston Matthews made it 2-0 for Toronto on the power play. Crusty “act like you’ve been there” types might grumble that he actually celebrated before a goal really happened, only to tap it in for real the second time around. The rest of us, again, get a mild chuckle.

William Nylander‘s pass was nothing to laugh at, however. That one just gets a big thumbs up.

Hnnngmgghh indeed.

That goal could end up being key as the Blue Jackets quickly scored to start the second period, shrinking Toronto’s lead to 2-1 on Wednesday.

Video: Leafs’ Carrick delivers thunderous hit on Blue Jackets’ Anderson

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Both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Toronto Maple Leafs have motivation to win their Wednesday game, but the Maple Leafs need it more.

So far, it shows, too.

The Maple Leafs have raced off to a 2-0 lead, with Auston Matthews scoring his 33rd goal of the season. If generating such offense didn’t highlight the urgency, Connor Carrick‘s huge hit on Josh Anderson makes a compelling argument. Witness that big impact in the video above.

There was also another high-impact moment when Nick Foligno went crashing into the boards:

Ouch, Blues consider Paul Stastny out week-to-week

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The St. Louis Blues announced that Paul Stastny is out week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

Stastny was limited to less than four minutes of ice time during last night’s 4-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche. Initially, head coach Mike Yeo indicated that the issue wasn’t serious.

There are only about three weeks left in the regular season, so it’s tough to tell if “week-to-week” would mean that the Blues will be without Stastny for any playoff time.

With Stastny out for an expended period of time and other injuries affecting Blues forwards, it sounds like Nail Yakupov gets another chance to prove himself:

Stastny generated 18 goals and 40 points in 66 games so far this season. He has played more of a defensive role this season (46.2 offensive zone start percentage after being closer to 50 earlier in his Blues days) and has been impressive in the dot, winning 53.8 of his faceoffs.

WATCH LIVE: Islanders at Rangers – Wednesday Night Rivalry

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A night after a feisty matcuhup with the Devils, the Rangers host an even bigger rival in the Islanders at Madison Square Garden for Wednesday Night Rivalry on NBCSN.

As nasty as Tuesday’s contest got at times, this one means more.

While the Rangers seem pretty safely seated as the East’s first wild card, the Islanders stand three points behind the Maple Leafs for the final spot in the conference. They’ve seen other bubble teams stumble, so this is their chance to close in on Toronto in what might be a shrinking field of contenders.

Spiting the Islanders might just give the Rangers a little extra life on back-to-back nights … especially since their fans would probably let them have it if they sleepwalk through this one.

It should be a fun, physical and dramatic one on NBCSN. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App.

Click here for the livestream.