May 20, 2013 1:57 pm

Clifford nears a return

Kyle Clifford was skating opposite Brad Richardson on a line centered by Colin Fraser at practice on Monday. Though clear indication of lineup changes is rarely provided at this time of the year, it appears as though Clifford is poised to make his series debut in Game 4 Tuesday night at HP Pavilion.

“Everybody that’s on the ice is available,” Darryl Sutter said after practice. “At some point it’ll be good to have him back.”

Clifford, out with an undisclosed injury, last played in a 3-2 overtime win at the Scottrade Center in Game 5 of the St. Louis series. He has averaged 9:24 of ice time in his five playoff games.

He tied career highs with seven goals and 14 points while playing in all 48 regular season games. Three of his seven goals came against the Sharks; in the 2010-11 playoff series against San Jose he tied for the team lead with three goals and five points as a then-20-year-old.

“I definitely like playing the Sharks. But we’re just going to go out there, play our role, and if we get opportunities, chip in offensively. Both Richie and Fras are offensive guys, too, so they can definitely put the puck in the net,” Clifford said.

When Sutter was asked about the extra day off between games in the series – the first time the Kings have enjoyed an in-series two-day break in the 2013 postseason – he referred to how he would have planned on using Clifford had the gap in the schedule been only one day.

“We come home and two days allows you to get one decent practice day and, obviously, allows some guys to heal a little bit,” Sutter said. “It’s like asking about Cliffy. If we’d have played tonight, then I wouldn’t have had him practicing with our team. That’s the advantage you always have.”

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