SAN JOSE — Scott Niedermayer is in pain but continues to play, and as long he is there, Mighty Duck Coach Randy Carlyle is going to use his star as much as he can.
Carlyle said he doesn't plan to cut Niedermayer's minutes even though he is skating on an injured right knee that appears to be worsening.
As he has done with other injured players, Carlyle is letting his captain make the call on whether he is sound enough to stay in the lineup. In this instance, it is simply a matter of how much pain Niedermayer can withstand.
"I think in these situations, the player tells you what's going on," Carlyle said. "We understand that it's not ideal.... He says his pain tolerance is bearable, and we'll continue to go on.
"Obviously it's something he's willing to put aside at this point. You have to support the decision that he makes."
Niedermayer had eight points in his last three games before Saturday night and is among the NHL's top-scoring defensemen with 41 points. He has looked like the franchise player the Ducks signed to a four-year contract in August.
"He's done everything that we've asked of him," Carlyle said. "He's worn the captaincy here and he's done an excellent job at it."
Defenseman Ruslan Salei practiced for the first time since suffering a fractured orbital bone above his right eye on Feb. 23, and it appears he is closer to returning to the lineup.
Salei sat out his fourth consecutive game Saturday after being hit on a shot by the Sharks' Joe Thornton. Carlyle wouldn't put a timetable on the veteran, but he could be ready for Monday's game at Edmonton, barring any setbacks.
Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov wore a broad smile even as he trudged into the locker room after a long morning workout. Bryzgalov's wife, Yevgeniya, delivered a baby boy, Vladislav, on Friday.
Bryzgalov spent the day with his wife and two children before awaking early Saturday to travel to San Jose. The one-hour flight wasn't nearly enough to satisfy his need for sleep.
"It's the first time in my life I wish the flight was never over," he said. "I wish it were a nine-hour flight."