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Vilardi could return for Kings against Oilers in Game 2 of West 1st Round

Forward missed series opener, last 9 regular-season games with upper-body injury

by David Satriano @davidsatriano / Staff Writer

EDMONTON -- Gabriel Vilardi could return for the Los Angeles Kings against the Edmonton Oilers in Game 2 of their Western Conference First Round series at Rogers Place on Wednesday (10 p.m. ET; ESPN, CBC, SN, TVAS, BSSC).

The forward missed the final nine games of the regular season with an upper-body injury and did not play in a 4-3 overtime win in Game 1 on Monday.

"I am ready to play," Vilardi said after taking part in an optional skate Tuesday. "Joined the team again and feeling pretty good."

Vilardi tied for fourth on the Kings during the regular season with 23 goals and was seventh with 41 points, each an NHL career high, in 63 games this season.

"It's part of the game; you get injured, and you try and recover as fast as you can," he said. "Just making sure (I feel OK), like getting in contact drills. Making sure to get my heart rate up and doing that consistently so when I do get back, obviously I haven't played in a while, I'm going to be a little rough, but you want to kind of limit how rusty you are."


[RELATED: Complete Oilers vs. Kings series coverage]


Vilardi played two Stanley Cup Playoff games with Los Angeles last season, having three shots and a combined ice time of 19:52 in Games 3 and 4 of a seven-game series loss to Edmonton in the first round.

"I think just feeling the atmosphere probably," Vilardi said. "I didn't play much (last postseason) but yeah, just being on the bench and obviously the excitement around playoffs and especially after last night's game, it's a lot of hype right now."

However, Kings coach Todd McLellan was less adamant that Vilardi would return for Game 2.

"The best thing that can happen as a player is saying he's ready, but there's also others that have to go through their protocol and sign off on," McLellan said.

Los Angeles is hoping to avoid a repeat of last year when they won 4-3 in Game 1 here before being shut out in a 6-0 loss in Game 2.

"If we learned any lessons from last year, it's that we know the intensity of the series and the execution of the series goes up game by game," McLellan said.

Kings defenseman Mikey Anderson said they know what to expect from the Oilers and are prepared for the challenge.

"It makes the series fun," Anderson said. "You come back for Game 2 and [the intensity] is going to ramp up even more, and same for the games going forward. I don't think we did a great job of it last year, so we want to focus on and be ready for this time."

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