Canes coach Bill Peters was a little surprised to see defenseman John-Michael Liles at practice Friday.
Liles was hit in the back of the leg late in Tuesday's game against the Ottawa Senators, and was unable to practice Wednesday or play Thursday in Montreal. Defenseman Danny Biega was recalled from the Charlotte Checkers (AHL) and made his NHL debut against the Canadiens.
But Liles was back on the ice Friday, giving the Canes seven available D-men and possibly giving Peters a decision to make heading into Saturday's game against the New York Rangers at PNC Arena.
"Good for him to gut it out," Peters said. "If he can play we're going to put him in for sure."
If Liles is good to go, Biega could be returned to the Checkers although Peters said he was pleased with Biega's play in the 4-0 loss to the Habs.
Cam Ward was at practice Friday but Peters said it appeared Ward, who has been slowed by an illness, had a "low energy level" and could need more time to fully recover. Anton Khudobin could again be the starter against the Rangers.
The lines in practice had Eric Staal at center with Chris Terry and Andrej Nestrasil, Victor Rask with Jeff Skinner and Elias Lindholm, Jordan Staal centering Nathan Gerbe and Alex Semin and Jay McClement at center with Brad Malone and Pat Dwyer. Riley Nash, a healthy scratch the past three games, also worked with the McClement line.
"We've got to get Riley back in," Peters said. "He could be a winger tomorrow or he could be in the middle. We'll see."
The Canes trailed the Canadiens 2-0 after the first period Thursday and never worked their way back into the game.
"It's frustrating," Peters said. "I didn't think we competed as hard as we have. It kind of came out of nowhere, in my opinion. You've got to move on and respond the right way. I expect to respond properly against New York."