ANAHEIM –- Tommy Wingels is fine to play against the Ducks on Wednesday night, less than 24 hours after taking an illegal check to the head courtesy of Vancouver’s Jannik Hansen on Tuesday.
Hansen was fined $5,000 by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety on Wednesday for the play, on which he was called for a two-minute minor. The Canucks killed off the penalty, and Hansen scored the eventual game-winning goal on a breakaway after stepping out of the penalty box.
Wingels gave his reaction to the hit.
“I didn’t like it when it happened. I like it even less every time I watch the replay of it,” he said.
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The 26-year-old missed about 10 game minutes, but returned before the end of the second period. Sometimes with hits to the head the symptoms don’t appear until the next day, but apparently Wingels isn’t feeling any ill effects.
“When there’s head contract our trainers and the league have established a protocol to react to something like that,” Wingels said. “I passed the tests and was able to come back in the game. It sucks missing the time, and it sucks that he came out of the box and scored. That’s all I’ll say about it.”
Hansen may be fortunate he didn’t get a suspension. The forward was previously suspended for one game for giving Chicago’s Marian Hossa a forearm to the back of the helmet in a game on Feb. 19, 2013, on a play that looked didn’t look quite as vicious as the blow he landed to Wingels’ head. Since that play came more than 18 months ago, though, Hansen was not considered a repeat offender.
Wingels leads the Sharks with five points (2g, 3a) in three games against the Ducks this season. These types of matchups seem to fit his hard-nosed style.
Wingels said: “I think we need to find a sparkplug again both in my own game and in the team game. I hope that I can do that tonight. I’ve had success in the past against them so far, and I’m going to try and continue that tonight.”
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Todd McLellan confirmed that Antti Niemi would get the start against the Ducks, as the Sharks try to end their 0-2-1 losing streak. The Sharks goalie is 12-9-1 with a 2.60 goals-against average and .907 save percentage career vs. Anaheim.
The Ducks’ Corey Perry is a game-time decision, although the scuttlebutt at the arena a couple hours before the game was that he would be playing for the first time since Dec. 5. Perry has missed the last 10 games with a sprained knee.
McLellan said: “Corey Perry is a tremendous player, there’s no doubt about it. But, if you just look at the one returning and forget about the other 19 in uniform, it can be a very big mistake. If he returns we’ll have our hands full. If he doesn’t, we’ll still have our hands full.”