Canes Now

LaRose gets chance to play as Canes face Sabres

The Canes will have what amounts to a full dress rehearsal Friday night for their preseason game against the Buffalo Sabres at PNC Arena.

Cam Ward will be in net. Eric Staal will center the top line with Jiri Tlusty and Alex Semin. Andrej Sekera and Justin Faulk will be the top defensive pair.

One surprise addition to the lineup: Chad LaRose.

For the first time since April 25, 2013, LaRose will put on a Carolina sweater and play in a game at PNC Arena. The winger will play on Jay McClement's line opposite Nathan Gerbe, given a chance to play by Canes coach Bill Peters because of an injury to winger Pat Dwyer.

"I'm excited," LaRose said, "I'll probably be a little emotional in the beginning."

LaRose sat out of hockey last season after angrily leaving the Canes after the 2013 season, frustrated by his play and the team’s failure to reach the playoffs. Some assumed his career was over. But he maintained his conditioning and was give the chance to return, first signed to an AHL contract and then given a professional tryout with the Canes.

With Dwyer (lower-body injury) out, LaRose now gets a chance in a game.

"I never knew what would happen," LaRose said. "I'm just very grateful and very emotional to be able to come back and play. I just want to keep moving forward."

Victor Rask will again center the second line with Jeff Skinner and Elias Lindholm. The McClement line is being listed as the third line, and Riley Nash will center Brad Malone and Zach Boychuk.

The other D pairs are Ron Hainsey and Ryan Murphy, and Tim Gleason with Jay Harrison. Brett Bellemore and John-Michael Liles will sit out the game -- Chris Terry and Patrick Brown are the extra forwards.

"It will be good. I'm excited about watching this group skate," Peters said. "It's the first time we've had as many veteran players as we've had in the lineup as we will tonight."

Rask had two goals and an assist in the Canes’ 6-3 loss to Columbus this week, earning a look as the second-line center. But Peters said Nash, who played with Skinner and Lindholm late last season, could easily move into that spot.

"We know Nash can go there at the drop of the hat if we need to make that change and could in the game," Peters said. "I'd like to give Victor the whole game there but if we have to we could put 'Nasher' right in there and not miss a beat."

The Canes are 1-4 in the preseason and have one final exhibition left Sunday at Washington.

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