SAN JOSE -- Ducks center Nick Bonino (foot) and forward Matt Beleskey (ill) will join defenseman Cam Fowler on the sidelines for Thursday night’s critical Pacific Division game against Anaheim’s division co-leader, the San Jose Sharks.
While the Ducks (45-17-7) announced Wednesday that Fowler would be out three to five weeks with a sprained knee ligament suffered in Friday’s win at Colorado, Bonino wasn’t ruled out until Thursday after getting hit on the foot by a puck in Tuesday’s 3-2 home loss to Washington.
The loss of Bonino, with 17 goals and 27 assists, further thins a power-play unit that is mired in a 2-for-48 slump. Fowler, who leads the team in ice time, is also a member of the top power-play unit.
Of Bonino, Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said, “He’s got a bruised part of his lower body, I’m sure he’s going to be back sooner rather than later,” nodding affirmatively when asked if that meant the Ducks’ Sunday home game against the Florida Panthers.
Beleskey has five goals, 13 assists and 33 penalty minutes this season.
The coach elaborated on the Fowler absence.
“He’s [defending] on everybody’s first line and can provide offense for you,” Boudreau said. “You miss that. We’re just hope it’s closer to the three weeks’ [absence], it’s already been a week.”
When told what appeared to be a minor injury was more disabling, Boudreau said he responded, “Let’s move on. Every team has injuries. Nobody’s going to care about us. Everyone has their own problems. No excuses, move on.”
Etem back up: Etem was brought back from Norfolk for the third time this season. He had been sent down before the Olympic break.
He said he would play Thursday night with the team’s forechecking line.
Given the presence of extra defenseman Mark Fistric, Etem could remain with the Ducks until Fowler’s return.
In Norfolk he played on the first line, power play and penalty kill units and departed with 14 goals and 25 assists.
“I don’t pay attention to all that stuff, just happy to be here,” Etem said, assessing he “did good” in the minors, “goals, moving my feet, felt good. I was there to work hard, played big minutes, one of the go-to guys.
“Big game tonight to come right in to.”
Etem made his NHL debut at SAP Center in San Jose.
Andersen in net: Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen (16-4) left the ice first, indicating he’ll make a second consecutive important division start after beating the Kings at Staples Center, 2-1, Saturday.
Veteran Antti Niemi (34-14-6) was the first goalie off the ice for the Sharks.
San Jose Coach Todd McLellan “watches every game we play and I watch every game they play,” Boudreau said. “We know what’s going to happen other than the outcome.”
Tune in early: The Ducks don’t want a repeat of their most recent visit to San Jose, where they fell behind early, much to the delight of the vocal crowd, and didn’t recover.
While the Ducks have an extra game to play and still have a date with the Sharks on April 9 at Honda Center, Ducks center Saku Koivu said, “It’s a tough building. If you end up beating them, you think of the confidence you’d get if you meet them again.”
Koivu said the Sharks have no glaring weakness, with four good lines and a reputation for playing energized, fast and physical at home.
“They try to grab the momentum and outwork, comes down to being ready early in the game,” Koivu said. “We put the focus on our own preparation, be willing to match the energy and physicality of their first 10-15 minutes and take it from there.”
So what: Boudreau said he wasn’t sweating the nine-game post-Olympic goal-less drought by first-line center Ryan Getzlaf, who has been stuck at 29 goals.
“I have no concern about that,” Boudreau said. “Phone up 29 other clubs and they’d take Getzlaf on a slump every day.”