Ilya Bryzgalov practiced Monday with a full Ducks roster for the first time in more than seven years, with the veteran goaltender moving toward a return game with the club this week.
Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said he expects Bryzgalov to play by the time Anaheim ends its current five-game trip to Canada, finishing with games in Montreal on Thursday and in Ottawa on Friday.
Because of injuries to backups John Gibson (groin) and Jason LaBarbera (broken hand), goalie Frederik Andersen has played in 18 consecutive games for the Ducks, compiling a 10-3-4 record with one no-decision.
As Bryzgalov arrived Monday, LaBarbera cleared waivers and was demoted to minor league Norfolk.
Since Ottawa is a seventh-place team instead of a returning Eastern Conference finalist such as the Canadiens, the Friday game appears ideal for Bryzgalov, a 2000 draft pick of the Ducks who played a key role in their 2006 and 2007 postseason success.
“He’s played two games [in Norfolk], you don’t want him to get too cold,” Boudreau said of the recently signed goalie. “We’ve got a back-to-back … one of those two games would be a good fit.”
Bryzgalov, 34, was waived by the Ducks in November 2007 and went on to play in Phoenix, Philadelphia, Edmonton and Minnesota, before finding himself out of hockey when the banged-up Ducks called.
He stopped 32 of 34 shots Friday and got the victory on Saturday in Norfolk, Va., before joining the Ducks at the Toronto Maple Leafs’ practice facility.
“I feel better. These past two games gave me lots of information on what I need to work on,” Bryzgalov said. “There’s lots of work in front of me.”
Bryzgalov said he is pleased to return to the NHL and reunite with the Ducks.
“Lots of familiar faces,” Bryzgalov said. “When you’re young, you [don’t] understand how quickly your career will fly by. How many years do I have left? Enjoy every practice, every game.”
Other roster moves
The Ducks recalled forward Dany Heatley from his two-game conditioning assignment in Norfolk, after groin surgery last month, and sent forward Chris Wagner to Norfolk.
“Played over 20 minutes each night, hadn’t done that in a while,” said Heatley, who was limited to 13 minutes 26 seconds of ice time or less in the four games he played with Anaheim between his preseason groin injury and surgery. “Got a little bit of my timing back. Felt good, different from [the comeback] last time, for sure. ... As it went on, I thought about [the groin] less.”
When: 4:30 p.m. PST.
On the air: TV: Prime Ticket. Radio: AM 830.
Etc.: Riding a seven-game winning streak, the Ducks face a similarly torrid Toronto team on a 9-1-1 run that included Sunday’s shootout victory over the Kings. Led by forward Phil Kessel (15 goals, 31 points), the Maple Leafs are in the midst of playing 14 of 18 games at home before leaving Sunday for a seven-game trip.