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Posted On Friday, 03.08.2013 / 7:16 PM

By Alain Poupart - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Versteeg back in Panthers lineup

Florida Panthers forward Kris Versteeg, who hasn't played since a Feb. 12 game against the Washington Capitals, returned to the lineup Friday for a home game against the Winnipeg Jets.

Versteeg's return was confirmed by the team's Twitter page. The team's third-leading scorer last season missed the past 12 games with an upper-body injury, which he is believed to have sustained while being hit from behind by Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin.

Posted On Tuesday, 03.05.2013 / 6:50 PM

By Alain Poupart - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Byfuglien will play for Jets vs. Florida

SUNRISE, Fla. Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien made it to the BB&T Center in time for Tuesday night’s game against the Florida Panthers.

Byfuglien flew home Monday to attend to a personal matter, and Jets coach Claude Noel said after Tuesday’s morning skate that the defenseman was scheduled to land in Fort Lauderdale shortly after 5 p.m. ET.

Byfuglien leads the Jets in average ice time at 24:43. He has three goals and 10 points in 16 games.

Posted On Tuesday, 03.05.2013 / 1:08 PM

By Alain Poupart - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Kovalev done with Panthers, future to be determined

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Veteran forward Alex Kovalev's status remains unknown.

Kovalev still is property of the Florida Panthers, but he no longer figures in the team's plans, and general manager Dale Tallon said Tuesday that Kovalev was "still weighing his options."

"It was just a mutual agreement that we wanted to go in a different direction, that's all," Tallon said.

Tallon said he was hoping for a resolution sometime this week. Kovalev, who was out of the NHL last season, could agree to be sent down to the American Hockey League, accept a buyout or retire.

Posted On Tuesday, 03.05.2013 / 12:58 PM

By Alain Poupart - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Another NHL debut, as Panthers recall Rheault

SUNRISE, Fla. -- As the result of the Florida Panthers' rash of injuries, Tuesday's game against the Winnipeg Jets will mark the NHL debut for a fifth player this season.

This time it will be forward Jonathan Rheault, who was recalled from San Antonio of the American Hockey League on Tuesday after news broke that center Stephen Weiss would undergo season-ending wrist surgery.

Rookie Jonathan Huberdeau, who leads the team with 10 goals, and defenseman Michael Caruso made their NHL debuts opening night. Center Drew Shore has stayed with the Panthers after being called up from San Antonio early in the season, and prospect Quinton Howden was sent back to San Antonio after making his NHL debut Jan. 26 against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Posted On Tuesday, 03.05.2013 / 12:44 PM

By Alain Poupart - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Jets prepared to play with or without Byfuglien

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien was scheduled to rejoin his teammates shortly after 5 p.m. Tuesday, or a couple of hours before the start of their game against the Florida Panthers.

Byfuglien missed Monday's practice after flying home for personal reasons. Coach Claude Noel said Monday that Derek Meech, recalled last Wednesday from St. John's of the American Hockey League, would take Byfuglien's place if he doesn't make it to the game on time.

Byfuglien averages a team-high 24:43 of ice time per game, but Noel wasn't fretting at possibly having to go without him.

"We'll see," Noel said. "I'm not too concerned with Dustin. If he's here, he's here; if he's not, we've got to win the game. There's other ways to win the game, so I'm not concerned. We'll just deal with it however it's dealt."

Forward Antti Miettinen, who has missed the past three games with a lower-body injury and has appeared in one game this season, will be back in the lineup for the Jets and is expected to play on a line with fellow Finn Olli Jokinen.

Forward Kyle Wellwood, a healthy scratch the past four games, also is expected to suit up.

Noel also confirmed that Ondrej Pavelec would make his 10th consecutive start in net.

Here are the Jets' projected lines:

Posted On Tuesday, 03.05.2013 / 10:13 AM

By Alain Poupart - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Panthers call up Rheault

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The slumping and injury-riddled Florida Panthers called up forward Jonathan Rheault from their American Hockey League affiliate in San Antonio on Tuesday.

Rheault, who could make his NHL debut Tuesday night when the Panthers face the Winnipeg Jets at BB&T Center, led the Rampage in scoring with 17 goals and 20 assists in 50 games.

Posted On Sunday, 03.03.2013 / 6:43 PM

By Alain Poupart - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Panthers goalie coach relieved as backup

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Florida Panthers goalie coach Robb Tallas served as his team's backup goalie for the first 16:16 of Sunday's game against the Carolina Hurricanes before his place was taken by Jacob Markstrom.

Tallas, 39, was signed to a one-day tryout after Markstrom's equipment was left off his flight from San Antonio to Fort Lauderdale on Sunday. Markstrom had been called up from San Antonio, the Panthers' American Hockey League affiliate, to replace Jose Theodore, who sustained a leg injury in Saturday's 6-2 loss against Carolina.

Posted On Sunday, 03.03.2013 / 4:28 PM

By Alain Poupart - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Hurting Panthers recall Markstrom, Yonkman

SUNRISE, Fla. -- After losing three players to injury in Saturday's 6-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, the Florida Panthers called up two players up from San Antonio of the American Hockey League for Sunday's rematch at BB&T Center.

Goalie Jacob Markstrom and defenseman Nolan Yonkman were recalled, and goalie Jose Theodore and defenseman Dmitry Kulikov were placed on injured reserve.

Posted On Thursday, 02.28.2013 / 1:34 PM

By Alain Poupart - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Weiss back with Panthers following tough few days

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Stephen Weiss was back with his Florida Panthers teammates Thursday morning and looking forward to Thursday's game against the Buffalo Sabres after a few tough days personally and professionally.

Weiss missed the Panthers' prior game, a 6-4 victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins, after flying to Toronto to attend his grandmother's funeral.

Weiss flew to Canada on Monday, one day after he was benched for most of the third period of Sunday's 4-1 loss to the Boston Bruins.

After taking part in the Panthers' optional morning skate Thursday, Weiss was asked whether he was getting a fresh start.

"Yeah, it was definitely nice to go back home and see the family," Weiss said. "Anytime something like that happens, it kind of refocuses you. I'm kind of looking forward to playing tonight."

Posted On Thursday, 02.28.2013 / 12:55 PM

By Alain Poupart - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Scott in, Foligno likely out for Sabres

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Buffalo Sabres enforcer John Scott will be in the lineup Thursday night against the Florida Panthers.

Scott was a healthy scratch the past two games, but Sabres coach Ron Rolston said the 6-foot-8 wing would play because of the anticipated presence in the Florida lineup of enforcer George Parros.

Scott and Parros had a fight when the teams met in Buffalo on Feb. 3, a game the Panthers won 4-3.

With Scott in the lineup, left wing Marcus Foligno is expected to be a healthy scratch.

On defense, the Sabres again will be without veterans Jordan Leopold and Alexander Sulzer.

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