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Ducks' Patrick Maroon healing fast, may be close to return

Ducks' Patrick Maroon healing fast, may be close to return
The Ducks' Patrick Maroon and San Jose's Chris Tierney compete during a preseason game in Anaheim on Oct. 4. (Christine Cotter / Associated Press)

Ducks forward Patrick Maroon, who was expected to be sidelined for a month after suffering a left knee injury Oct. 13 in Buffalo, has skated on this trip and is closer to a return to game action than had been expected.

"It wouldn't surprise me if he plays on this trip," Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said Thursday with the team scheduled to head to Dallas on Friday and conclude the trip Sunday in Colorado.

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Maroon was playing on the Ducks' first line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry and had three assists through two-plus games when he was knocked to the ice and required assistance to leave when hit low by Buffalo defenseman Josh Gorges.

"[He&;#39;s] healing much quicker and he's a big, strong man. ... Some guys get better quicker," Boudreau said.

The coach said he'll await full medical clearance before playing Maroon, who is from St. Louis.

STARTING TONIGHT … : Boudreau, after watching a replay of Tuesday's 1-0 Ducks' victory in Chicago, said that some players were sloppier than he had first thought in allowing 38 shots on goalie John Gibson.

Gibson's play was superb, however, and it appears to have earned him a second consecutive start in St. Louis despite the fact that Frederik Andersen blanked the Blues Oct. 19 and beat them twice last season.

Gibson was the first goalie off the ice at Thursday's morning skate.

Boudreau shifted Matt Beleskey back to the first line and moved Dany Heatley to the second line with center Ryan Kesler and forward Devante Smith-Pelly.

Heatley made his season debut Tuesday after suffering a preseason groin injury, and was limited to one shot in 13:26 of ice time.

"I've just got to focus on what makes the line good," Kesler said. "Obviously, guys have different attributes. It's my job to figure that out and figure how to best play with them. I know [forwards] keep changing, but I played with 'Devo' before and we'll see what it brings tonight."

Kesler said he's impressed by the 220-pound Smith-Pelly, who at age 22, already has three goals and two assists -- including the game-winner on a third-period takeaway and breakaway Tuesday.

"He's a wrecking ball out there on the forecheck, showed his speed on the breakaway," Kesler said. "I didn't know much about him, but I'm happy he's on our side."

After the first line of Perry-Getzlaf-Beleskey, the third line was Andrew Cogliano-Nate Thompson-Jakob Silfverberg and the fourth was Emerson Etem-Rickard Rakell-Tim Jackman.

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