Frederik Andersen, Sami Vatanen return for Ducks tonight

Ducks' Frederik Andersen and Sami Vatanen to make return from injury tonight against Avalanche

Four games or 15 games … it’s seemed like too long of an absence for both Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen and defenseman Sami Vatanen.

They’re scheduled to make their returns Friday night at Honda Center when Western Conference-leading Anaheim (45-20-7) meets the Colorado Avalanche (33-26-11).

“Getting used to the game speed again – you can’t get that in practice – so I’ve just got to play simple and try to do my best, enjoy every shift,” Vatanen said following Friday’s morning skate.

Vatanen, sidelined since Feb. 15 when he suffered an unspecified lower-body injury, leads Ducks’ defensemen with 12 goals and 34 points and says he expects to be paired with Cam Fowler Friday night.

While he’s said he’s been ready to play since early this week, Vatanen says he understands why this game makes more sense.

“It might be one of those things where [Wednesday opponent] the Kings are a big team, a little tougher,” Vatanen said.

Andersen (30-10-5) has been out since consecutive losses March 6 and March 9, left to watch goalie John Gibson win three of four starts, including consecutive victories over Minnesota’s Devan Dubnyk, Nashville’s Pekka Rinne and the Kings’ Jonathan Quick.

“I know I can play, I’ve just got to back to what I did before,” said Andersen, who was sidelined until March 1 after a goal fell atop him and whacked him on the back of the head Feb. 8 in Tampa Bay.

“It’s a matter of getting in a rhythm. It’s nice to get a chance.”

Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said he has a playing-time plan for Andersen and Gibson through the end of the regular season.

Asked if he’s comfortable with that plan, Andersen said: “We’ll see. I always want to play more. That’s how it is. We need two goalies ready for the playoffs. With me and Gibby we have a really good chance.

“I don’t feel like I want to mess [the plan] up for him. But I want to make it harder. I want to give him a hard time picking. That’s a good problem to have.”

JACKMAN UPDATE: Injured Ducks forward Tim Jackman (leg) is expected to skate on his own while the Ducks are away on a five-game trip.

“He’s a pretty dedicated athlete and wants to get better as quick as possible,” Boudreau said. “He’s doing everything he can to get better.”

Jackman’s been out since getting hurt March 1 in Dallas, but while sidelined at home he was able to be there for the birth of his and wife Chelsey’s first child.

Follow Lance Pugmire on Twitter @latimespugmire

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