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Posted On Monday, 02.18.2013 / 12:58 PM

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

Leafs use same lineup; Gunnarsson nears return

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Winners of five of their last six, the Toronto Maple Leafs will stick with the same lineup when they face the Florida Panthers Monday night.

The Leafs, however, could have defenseman Carl Gunnarsson back soon.

Gunnarsson, who has missed the last eight games because of a hip injury, took part in the morning skate.

"He's going to be an option for us very shortly," coach Randy Carlyle said. "We'll have to think that one through because we've got some people that have been performing fairly well for us. These are decisions that are tough ones but good ones for the organization going forward."

Posted On Monday, 02.18.2013 / 12:06 PM

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

Panthers working overtime, but not seeing results

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers can make NHL history Monday night, but they want no part of it.

The Panthers will enter their home game against the Toronto Maple Leafs having lost their last three in overtime, tying a record previously done eight times.

Florida joined Nashville (2010-11) as the only teams to ever lose three straight in overtime with all three games at home.

Even more painful for the Panthers is the fact they squandered 5-3 third-period leads Tuesday against Washington and Saturday against Tampa Bay, when the Lightning tied the game with 10.4 seconds remaining in regulation.

Posted On Monday, 02.18.2013 / 11:37 AM

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

Versteeg will miss third straight for Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Right wing Kris Versteeg will miss his third consecutive game Monday night when the Florida Panthers play host to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Versteeg, who hasn't played since sustaining an upper-body injury in last Tuesday's 6-5 overtime loss against Washington, did not take part in the team's morning skate and coach Kevin Dineen said he was definitely out.

Versteeg has one goal and two assists in seven games after finishing third on the team with 54 points last season.

The Panthers also continue to be without defenseman Ed Jovanovski (knee), Sean Bergenheim (lower body), Scottie Upshall (ankle) and Michael Caruso (wrist).

Posted On Thursday, 02.14.2013 / 1:07 PM

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

Canadiens always feel at home playing in Florida

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Montreal Canadiens will not travel farther to face an opponent this season than BB&T Center, where they play the Florida Panthers on Thursday night.

In terms of atmosphere, though, it might be the closest thing the Canadiens have to a home game away from home.

As is always the case when the Canadiens play in Sunrise, a large crowd is expected Thursday and it's a safe bet a good portion of those in attendance will be wearing Montreal jerseys and rooting for the road team.

"We're very lucky to get as much support as we do when we come down here," Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban said. "It's great to see. The Montreal Canadiens organization has been around for a very long time, the fan base is spread out throughout the world, but it is a little surprising to come here and see so many fans show up."

Posted On Thursday, 02.14.2013 / 12:26 PM

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

Projected lineup for Canadiens vs. Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Fourteen players took to the ice Thursday when the Montreal Canadiens held an optional skate at BB&T Center.

Among those who skated were defensemen Andrei Markov and P.K. Subban.

After the skate, Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said he was going with the same lineup as the previous game, a 4-3 shootout victory at Tampa Bay on Tuesday.

Posted On Thursday, 02.14.2013 / 11:04 AM

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

Panthers' Versteeg out of lineup against Canadiens

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers will be without right wing Kris Versteeg when they face the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night.

Versteeg, who sustained an upper-body injury in Tuesday's 6-5 overtime loss against the Washington Capitals, did not take part in the team's morning skate. Versteeg also didn't take part in Monday's practice and coach Kevin Dineen said he was day-to-day.

Versteeg's spot on the top line alongside Stephen Weiss and Tomas Fleischmann was taken by Shawn Matthias.

Posted On Tuesday, 02.12.2013 / 2:10 PM

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

Capitals chase first road victory, consecutive wins

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Fresh off their most impressive showing of the season, the Washington Capitals now are looking to build on Saturday's 5-0 victory against the Florida Panthers.

With a rematch against the Panthers at the BB&T Center coming up Tuesday night, the Capitals are hoping they've finally turned things around after their miserable start.

"Hopefully it's one of those turnaround games where we had our rock-bottom moment a few weeks ago and we wanted to be better, to a man," said wing Troy Brouwer, who scored twice in Saturday's victory. "Going into our last game, guys were real excited wanting to turn the season around. We feel we've taken the right steps toward moving forward here and we've got to continue that."

Posted On Tuesday, 02.12.2013 / 2:00 PM

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

Panthers get immediate opportunity for payback

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers start an important four-game homestand Tuesday night and get an opportunity to avenge an embarrassing loss in their previous game.

The Panthers get another shot at the Washington Capitals, who shut them out 5-0 Saturday night at Verizon Center.

"For us, having come off a loss to them, a tough loss where it was a pretty lopsided score, that doesn't sit well with us," said Panthers goalie Scott Clemmensen, who is expected to get the start Tuesday. "We're looking forward to getting another crack at them."

The game brought a disappointing end to what otherwise was a productive four-game road trip for the Panthers. Before the loss at Washington, Florida had gone 2-0-1, with victories at the Buffalo Sabres and Philadelphia Flyers and an overtime loss at the Winnipeg Jets.

Posted On Tuesday, 02.12.2013 / 12:43 PM

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

Upper-body injury sidelines Capitals' Johansson

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Washington Capitals forward Marcus Johansson did not make the trip along with his teammates and will sit out Tuesday night's game against the Florida Panthers.

Johansson sustained an upper-body injury Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins and sat out Saturday's 5-0 victory against the Panthers at the Verizon Center.

Posted On Tuesday, 02.12.2013 / 11:02 AM

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

Kovalev likely to return for Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Florida Panthers forward Alex Kovalev likely will be back in the lineup Tuesday against the Washington Capitals after being a healthy scratch the previous two games.

Kovalev, who turns 40 later this month, worked on a line with Tomas Kopecky and Marcel Goc during the morning skate.

Kovalev, who was signed after being invited to camp on a tryout basis, had been benched in favor of Jack Skille for Thursday's 3-2 shootout victory at the Philadelphia Flyers and Saturday's 5-0 loss at Washington.

Skille scored Florida's first goal in the victory against the Flyers. He'll stay in the lineup, with Jerred Smithson relegated to the press box.

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It's cool when you think about how many great American players have played the game and the two players that were at that 18-game point streak and what they've done in their careers. It's pretty cool right now, but it was kind of overshadowed by the loss.

— Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane after breaking the record for longest point streak by an American-born player with a goal and an assist in a 3-2 overtime loss against the Kings
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