(Sports Network) - With the NHL-leading Canucks down yet another defenseman, the Ducks may be getting captain Ryan Getzlaf back at just the right time.
Getzlaf is expected to return from his six-week layoff this evening when his club continues a four-game road trip against Vancouver, winners of six in a row, at Rogers Arena.
Getzlaf has been out since suffering multiple nasal sinus fractures after taking a puck to the forehead in a win over Phoenix on Dec. 28. The 25-year- old had 13 goals and 24 assists in 40 games prior to the injury, but the Ducks managed to win 10 of 14 without him.
Head coach Randy Carlyle thinks Getzlaf's return will add more punch to a Ducks team that is currently seventh overall in the Western Conference.
"Now that he's back in the lineup, we think that gives us more depth in scoring," Carlyle told his team's website. "He's a big part of our team and is our captain. We know his compete level and conditioning level will be there. He's ready to go."
Adding Getzlaf back to an offensive mix that includes Corey Perry, Teemu Selanne, Bobby Ryan and Saku Koivu isn't good news for Vancouver's banged-up blueline.
With defenders Alexander Edler, Sami Salo and Lee Sweatt already out, the Canucks lost Keith Ballard for 3-to-4 weeks due to a right knee injury suffered early in Monday's 4-2 win over the Senators.
With Aaron Rome picking up 17 minutes worth of penalties due to a first-period fight, the Canucks were forced to play a large chunk of the game with just four defenders.
"I think it's tough for the D when they're playing with four back there and they're getting pressured as hard as they are," forward Ryan Kesler told Vancouver's website. "They did a good job, obviously going out there every other shift is pretty tiring for those guys. I thought they dealt with the adversity pretty well."
Two goals and three points by Mikael Samuelsson helped take the pressure off, as did goals from Kesler and Alex Burrows. Roberto Luongo added 31 saves for his NHL high-tying 26th win of the season.
Vancouver extended its winning streak to six straight games and is 6-0-3 in its last nine to up its NHL-leading point total to 79, four more than Philadelphia.
The Canucks have also won the first two contests of a four-game homestand and are 11-0-4 since their last home regulation loss on Dec. 5.
With Luongo battling the flu, Cory Schneider will get the start tonight, his first ever versus the Ducks. He has faced them once in relief.
Anaheim will also be without its No. 1 goaltender in Jonas Hiller, who sat out Saturday's 3-0 victory over Colorado with fatigue and lightheadedness. Hiller was placed on injured reserve Tuesday, but could return by week's end.
"It's tough to explain -- probably lightheadedness. It just doesn't seem to be right around me," said Hiller after going on IR. "It's tough to say. We're still trying to figure out what exactly is the problem. I think just getting some rest definitely already helps."
Curtis McElhinney stepped up and made 25 saves for his second career shutout, while Perry had all three goals for the second hat trick of his career. Anaheim has won five of seven and eight of its last 11.
Though the Ducks recently added goaltender Ray Emery, he isn't in game shape and was assigned to the American Hockey League. McElhinney will get the start tonight and will be backed up by Timo Pielmeier as the Ducks aim for a fourth straight road win.
McElhinney will hope this start versus the Canucks goes better than his last in a meeting at Vancouver on Dec. 8. Anaheim led by two goals midway through the third period before the netminder took a shot off his mask and collapsed to the ice. The Canucks scored on the rebound and McElhinney had to be helped off the ice while bleeding from his forehead.
Vancouver went on to tie the game and eventually win, 5-4, in a shootout for its third victory in the last four meetings as well as second straight and fifth in the last seven played at Rogers Arena.