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Round 2
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Stanley Cup Final
POSTED ON Saturday, 03.17.2012 / 1:44 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Versteeg, Kulikov return for Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. — After coach Kevin Dineen said all week that Kris Versteeg and Dmitry Kulikov were close to returning to action, the next step finally has come and both players will be in the lineup when   the Florida Panthers face the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night.

Versteeg missed the last nine games because of a lower-body injury. He was the team’s leading scorer with 49 points when he went out, but has since dropped to third behind Tomas Fleischmann (51) and Stephen Weiss (50).

The three have played on the same line for most of the season, but Versteeg is expected to skate Saturday night alongside Tomas Kopecky and Shawn Matthias.

“I want to be a help to the team in any way I can,” said Versteeg, who last played during the Panthers’ 4-2 victory over Montreal on Feb. 26. “I guess a couple of weeks ago we had a little bit of a rough run, but the last three games the guys have been clicking. You don’t want to come in and do too much to the chemistry, but you do want to come in and help.”

As for Kulikov, he’ll return after missing 23 games after undergoing knee surgery on Jan. 24.

Kulikov figures to be paired again with veteran Mike Weaver.

“It’s been a long time,” Kulikov said. “I’ve been looking forward to this night. I’ve been looking forward to coming back and helping out the team. Obviously, guys are doing good right now. I just want to get into the rhythm and don’t mess up the thing.”

After undergoing surgery, Kulikov said the knee had been bothering to some degree for about five years. But he says he’s 100 percent now.

“When you’re injured, you’re working even harder than the guys that are playing,” Kulikov said. “That’s what they prepare you for. It’s hard, but that needs to be done, those workouts and preparation for the games. I feel fresh right now. I feel like I have lots of energy.

“You don’t go into the game and get used to the game. You don’t have time for that. You just have to go out there and pick up where you left off or even better. It’s going to be tough, but we’ll see how it 
goes.”

The return of Versteeg and Kulikov made for some tough lineup decisions for Dineen, whose team is riding a three-game winning streak.

“A guy like Marco Sturm that I felt played the best game I’ve seen him play in a Panthers uniform (Thursday against Boston) is making those decisions extremely tough,” Dineen said. “When you get a coveted spot in this lineup, your job is to make sure that the coaches have a tough decision every day in how they’re putting their lineup together every day.

“That’s exactly what you want. You want enthusiasm and some kind of production ... it may not be on the score sheet, but there has to be a positive effect for every player in the lineup for us to be successful. That’s how our sales job right now.”

It is Sturm’s spot on the Matthias line that Versteeg will take against Buffalo, but Sturm is expected to be in the lineup anyway skating with John Madden and Jerred Smithson.

Here is the Panthers’ projected lineup for Saturday night against Buffalo.

PANTHERS

Tomas Fleischmann - Stephen Weiss - Wojtek Wolski
Sean Bergenheim - Marcel Goc - Mikael Samuelsson
Tomas Kopecky - Shawn Matthias - Kris Versteeg
Marco Sturm - John Madden - Jerred Smithson

Jason Garrison - Brian Campbell
Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver
Ed Jovanovski - Erik Gudbranson

Jose Theodore
Scott Clemmensen
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POSTED ON Thursday, 03.15.2012 / 3:02 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Panthers see returns of Versteeg, Kulikov near

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Kris Versteeg and Dmitry Kulikov stayed on the ice after the morning skate Thursday and they'll once again be out of the lineup when the Florida Panthers face Boston Thursday night.

But their long-awaited return appears imminent. In fact, it very well might come as early as Saturday when the Panthers wrap up a four-game homestand against the Buffalo Sabres.

"Getting closer, that's the good part," said Kulikov, who will miss his 23rd game since undergoing knee surgery. "I'm practicing with the team. So excited to be out there with the guys. Just waiting for my comeback."

Versteeg, for his part, will miss his ninth consecutive game with a lower-body injury.

Despite not having played since Feb. 26, Versteeg is tied with Tomas Fleischmann for the team lead in goals (22) and points (49).

Kulikov, meanwhile, appeared on his way to a breakout season in his third year in the NHL. Despite having played only 42 games, the 2009 first-round pick is only two points shy of his career high of 26.

"Kuli was so impressive at the beginning of the year," coach Kevin Dineen said. "For a young player, he shows a great deal of maturity and stability. He's been sorely missed. We're excited about his imminent return."

The return of Versteeg and Kulikov no doubt will provide a major boost for a Florida team looking to make the playoffs for the first time since 2000.

Even with those two, the Panthers won't be completely healthy, as forwards Matt Bradley and Jack Skille are both likely out for the season with upper-body injuries.

But Versteeeg and Kulikov are two important pieces for the Panthers, and Dineen will find himself with some tough lineup decisions going forward.

"It's hard decisions," Dineen said, "and that's a good reflection on what Dale Tallon has done here to give us the depth to be healthy and to have options in the playoff run. And that's what we’re looking for."
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POSTED ON Thursday, 03.15.2012 / 2:52 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Panthers have their sights set on No. 2 seed

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers have spent a good part of the season trying to hold off the Washington Capitals and stay atop the Southeast Division to land the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference standings, but they've started thinking about a bigger target.

The Panthers now have their eye on the second seed and the Boston Bruins, tonight's opponents at the BankAtlantic Center.

Boston will come in with a four-point lead (83-79) over Florida, and both teams will have 12 games remaining after Thursday night.

Heading into last Saturday, the Bruins had an eight-point lead over Florida with a game in hand, so the idea of landing the No. 2 seed seemed out of reach for the Panthers.

But Boston has lost its last three and the Panthers have won their last two, making Thursday night's fourth and final meeting between the teams a crucial one.

"We do talk about where our situation is and we do look at this as a four-point game," Florida coach Kevin Dineen said. "I know we're playing -- excuse the pun -- a bit of a wounded bear right now after their game in Tampa. We know we're going to have our hands full. This is the kind of game we are going to play down the stretch, and I don't think the timing could be any better for us. It's going to be a great challenge for us.

"It’s a team well-respected in our locker room and throughout the League, and when a team like that goes through a little bit of a drought right now, you know they're going to come out very hungry and angry. I think that's what we need as a team as well. We need to have ourselves a game that's incredibly competitive, and that's what I would expect tonight."

In the Southeast Division, Florida has only a one-point lead over Washington, but also has a game in hand. Winnipeg is five points behind the Panthers, but also has played one more game. The Capitals and Jets meet Friday night in Winnipeg.

But the Panthers, who haven't made the playoffs since 2000, are trying not to get too caught up in the standings.

"You can't look five games ahead," defenseman Mike Weaver said. "You've just got to concentrate on this game. This is huge. Every single period, every single shift, every single time you touch the puck, it's going to be like a playoff game.

"We've really got to keep this thing going. We've won two games, but I want to say we haven't been up against an opponent like Boston. That's going to be a really huge test. That's why you prepare in the summer, that's why you work hard, this is why you ride the bike, do your long jogs and runs, you prepare for situations like these."
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POSTED ON Thursday, 03.15.2012 / 2:28 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Defending champs hit stretch run seeking answers

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Boston Bruins wrap up a three-game road trip Thursday night at Florida looking to avoid being swept. Just as important, the defending Stanley Cup champions are looking for answers.

Boston didn't just lose at Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay in its last two games, the Bruins were embarrassed by scores of 5-2 and 6-1.

The blowout losses have given Thursday night's game against the Panthers added importance beyond the tightening Eastern Conference standings, and center Patrice Bergeron realizes the level of urgency his team is feeling.

"It's high," he said. "We need to find answers. We need to build some ground and get those points. It's a huge game for us right now. We know there's not much time left before the end of the season and we need to get on a roll. We're not happy with the way we're playing right now and we need to find answers."

Boston will enter Thursday's game on an overall three-game losing streak, during which it has been outscored 15-6. The 15 goals represents the most goals the Bruins have allowed over a three-game span all season.

There have been problems lately in all facets.

Over their last six games, the Bruins are 0-for-13 on the power play. In their last five, they've allowed five power-play goals on 16 chances.

And then there's the slow starts. In their last three losses, the Bruins have found themselves down by at least two goals in the first 8:15 every time. Against Tampa Bay on Tuesday, it was 3-0 after only 4:31.

"I wish there was one answer because then it would be easy to address it," center Chris Kelly said. "When you get behind the 8-ball like we have, you put yourself in a tough, tough position, especially at this point in the year. Teams have found their game, especially defensively when they go up by one, let alone two or three or even four. Our starts are key, and we need to be much, much better starting hockey games."

Coach Claude Julien looks at the overall picture and says the Bruins need to go back to playing more of a team game.

"We're not a team that relies on one or two players to bail us out, we've done it by community in the past," Julien said. "We also realize what we have here and what we're all about, and our strength has been as a pack, not as individuals. So we need to play within our strengths, and if we're going to get ourselves out of it, like a lot of players have told you, it's not about one guy. It's about all of us picking up our game and putting us back in the right direction."

Despite the Bruins' recent struggles, don't think for a second the Panthers will be taking them lightly. If nothing else, they remember too well the teams' Dec. 23 meeting in Boston that ended in an 8-0 rout for the home team.

"That's a team that put a pretty good Christmas beating on us on the 23rd, sent us on our break licking our wounds a little bit," Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. "You know what, every team has their stretches where you go through droughts. Boston's success has come in great quantum bunches. Right now it's not happening that way, but too much respect for that organization and that coaching staff to (think) that they won't be ready and prepared for tonight's game."

As they try to break out of their funk, the Bruins can found some solace in their ability to overcome adversity last year on their way to the Stanley Cup title.

They could even look at their only other three-game losing streak this season, which occurred in late October. After the third consecutive loss, 4-2 at Montreal on Oct. 29, the Bruins reeled off 10 consecutive victories -- the longest winning streak in the NHL this season.

"No one is feeling sorry for us around the League or around the hockey world," Bergeron said. "We're in this together, and that's how we're going to get out of it. We can learn from experiences in the past that we have the character to come out of it. We've just got to go out there and do it."
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POSTED ON Thursday, 03.15.2012 / 2:08 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Banged-up Bergeron still expects to play for Bruins

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Patrice Bergeron is one of four Boston Bruins to not miss a game this season, and it appears his streak will continue Thursday night against Florida despite two leg injuries in the last two games.

After being the only player on Boston's active roster not to practice Wednesday, one night after he was hit in the back of the leg by a slap shot from teammate Johnny Boychuk, Bergeron skated Thursday morning.

Coach Claude Julien said Bergeron would be a game-time decision, but the Bruins center sounded optimistic he would be ready to go against the Panthers.

"I felt OK," Bergeron said. "I'd like to be 100 percent, but that's part of the game and I'll be alright for tonight, hopefully. I've got to play through it. I'm no different than anyone else. It's part of the game. It shouldn't be an excuse."

Bergeron played only one shift in the third period of Sunday's 5-2 loss at Pittsburgh because of a lower-body injury, but that's unrelated to the injury sustained in the 6-1 loss at Tampa Bay Tuesday.

In that game, Bergeron was able to come back after missing only one shift. The center said there's no danger of aggravating the injury, that it's just a matter of pain tolerance.

Bergeron added he did see the shot from Boychuk.

"I just couldn't get out of the way," Bergeron said. "It's just one of those things where you're there, but you hope it's not going to hit you. But it did. Johnny's got a pretty good shot."

Among the other small group of Bruins players who skated Thursday morning was forward Benoit Pouliot, who has missed the last three games because of a lower-body injury.

He also will be a game-time decision.

Tim Thomas, who was pulled after one period against Pittsburgh in his last start before replacing Marty Turco Tuesday, is expected to start in net.

For the Panthers, Jose Theodore is expected to make his sixth consecutive start. Since a 5-0 loss at Philadelphia last Thursday, Theodore has allowed only three goals on 96 shots in his last three outings.

Up front, veteran Marco Sturm is expected to be back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch four of the last six games. Sturm, who spent four-plus seasons with Boston before being traded to Los Angeles in December 2010, is expected to replace Mike Santorelli on the third line alongside Shawn Matthias and Tomas Kopecky.

Here are the projected lineups for the Bruins and Panthers:

BRUINS
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Jordan Caron
Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Tyler Seguin
Daniel Paille - Chris Kelly - Brian Rolston
Trent Whitfield - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara - Dennis Seidenberg
Andrew Ference - Johnny Boychuk
Greg Zanon - Joe Corvo

Tim Thomas
Marty Turco

PANTHERS
Tomas Fleischmann - Stephen Weiss - Wojtek Wolski
Sean Bergenheim - Marcel Goc - Mikael Samuelsson
Marco Sturm - Shawn Matthias - Tomas Kopecky
Krystofer Barch - John Madden - Jerred Smithson

Jason Garrison - Brian Campbell
Ed Jovanovski - Erik Gudbranson
Keaton Ellerby - Mike Weaver

Jose Theodore
Scott Clemmensen
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POSTED ON Tuesday, 03.13.2012 / 3:22 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Panthers' roster has distinct Ontario flavor

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers' roster features eight players born in Ontario, so they've looked forward to games against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The whole team has had another reason to look forward to Tuesday night's fourth and final meeting of the season at the BankAtlantic Center: Florida's dominance over the Leafs in 2011-12.

The Panthers took the first three games, winning by scores of 5-1, 5-3 and 5-3.

To put Florida's offensive output in perspective, consider that the Panthers have scored five goals or more only eight times in 68 games.

Taking it a step further, the Panthers have played 41 games since beating Washington 5-4 at home on Dec. 5. They've reached five goals in two of those 41 games -- you guessed it, both times against Toronto.

"I don't know, sometimes there's just those teams you just have your way with some nights," said Panthers center Shawn Matthias, a native of Mississauga, Ontario. "Don't want to jinx it right now. With the games that we played against the Leafs, we had a lot of goals where we were driving wide and just shooting and keeping things simple and just playing hard. That's what we've got to do every night to be successful. Some nights the puck is just not going in. You just stick to the basics, and hopefully we can start scoring every night."

Goals have been hard to come by for the Panthers in March. They have been shut out twice this month, scored one goal twice and were held to one goal by Carolina on Sunday before they scored an empty-netter to make it 2-0.

That's what coach Kevin Dineen was focused on as he prepared for Tuesday's game, not the earlier offensive success against the Leafs.

"That's one stat I don't buy too much into," Dineen said. "You feel where your team is, the ebbs and flows of a season and where we're at right now, there's a large sense of desperation in our game, as well as the Leafs. It has the mixture of a pretty good hockey game.

"You look at your previous games against a team, but you also look at your most recent production and our production recently probably is where the focus is, because we haven't been that strong. Obviously, we've had a couple of strong games in Toronto. Might be the amount of representation our team has from Ontario that guys are certainly up for it, but it's been a good matchup thus far."

Florida's offense against Toronto has been well spread out, with 13 different players scoring the 15 goals.

In the first two meetings, the Panthers chased the Maple Leafs' starting goalie -- Jonas Gustavsson at Toronto on Nov. 8 and James Reimer at Florida on Dec. 27.

"They've got a good team over there that moves the puck very well, a good power play," Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf said. "We've got to be a little bit tighter from the three previous games. They've gotten a little bit too much on us. We haven't played tight enough against them, but to their credit they've got a highly offensive team that's got a lot of speed and they've got a good back end. We know that it's going to be a challenge for us to shut them down, but we've got to play a little bit tighter."

Toronto's first visit to the BankAtlantic Center this season during the Christmas holidays drew 20,406, the Panthers' largest home crowd this season. There should be another big crowd Tuesday night.

That only added to the anticipation for Matthias and the Panthers' other Ontario natives -- Stephen Weiss, Brian Campbell, Ed Jovanovski, Mike Weaver, Erik Gudbranson, Krystofer Barch and John Madden.

"Being a Canadian kid, you get jacked up against all the Canadian cities," Matthias said. "Especially the Leafs, being from Mississauga, a Toronto-area native. You know everyone back home is watching you play, it's just exciting, and there's quite a few people I know in the stands tonight. So it should be fun."
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POSTED ON Tuesday, 03.13.2012 / 2:44 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Maple Leafs seek solutions to scoring woes

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Toronto Maple Leafs are looking to snap out of a funk that has seen them lose 14 of their last 16 games, and the first step would be finding a way to score.

The Leafs will go into Tuesday night's game at Florida coming off back-to-back shutout losses -- 1-0 in a shootout at home against Philadelphia, and 2-0 at Washington.

Toronto has gone 157:24 since its last goal, a deflection by defenseman Carl Gunnarsson that gave the Maple Leafs a 2-0 second-period lead at Pittsburgh in a game they would lose 3-2.

"We've just got to keep getting to the net and keep getting in front of the goalies and getting rebounds and getting some dirty goals," forward Joey Crabb said. "When you're in a slump a little bit, then you've just got to do the dirty things that get you goals and maybe not so much the pretty tic-tac-toe plays."

Randy Carlyle, who replaced Ron Wilson as Leafs coach on March 2, said his team needs more control of the puck in the offensive zone as well as creating more traffic in front of the net.

"The new term in hockey is take the goaltender's eyes away with the middle-net drive, the net presence," he said. "You've got to create more offensive zone time, which in turn usually wears down the opposition, creates more chances and draws penalties. Instead of playing the one-and-out game, if we can play more of an offensive zone control game and move off the puck, cycle the puck, do all of those things, then it should increase the chances to score.

"The offensive zone time that you are able to create gives your team a lift because it's a lot more fun to play in the offensive zone than it is in the defensive zone. That's what we're trying to sell."

Of course, it doesn't help Toronto's cause that wing Joffrey Lupul has missed the last three games with a shoulder injury that's expected to keep him out until the end of the month.

Lupul is second on the team behind Phil Kessel and tied for eighth in the League with Chicago's Marian Hossa with 67 points, and his speed created some space for Kessel.

"Lups' speed has opened up the ice for both (Tyler) Bozak and Kessel," Carlyle said. "I don't think they have that same element with a Tim Connolly, but I think Tim Connolly's playmaking ability when he gets the puck should be able to create time and space for them."

The Leafs have lost four in a row since beating Montreal in Carlyle's debut on March 3, but the four losses have been by a combined five goals.

Their current 2-12-2 skid has dropped the Maple Leafs to 12th in the Eastern Conference standings, and they're eight points behind eighth-place Washington with 13 games left.

If nothing else, Toronto put together respectable performances in its recent losses to the Bruins, Penguins, Flyers and Capitals.

The Maple Leafs are looking to do the same against Florida and hoping to finally find the back of the net.

"We've got to focus on both ends of the ice," Crabb said. "We've had a couple of good defensive games and we can't let that go just because we haven't scored in a couple of games. The goals will come. As long as we stay stingy defensively like we have been, then we'll be set."
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POSTED ON Tuesday, 03.13.2012 / 2:15 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Injured Panthers not yet ready to return

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers might have forward Kris Versteeg and defenseman Dmitry Kulikov back in the lineup sometime during their current four-game homestand, but it won't be Tuesday night against Toronto.

Coach Kevin Dineen said both Versteeg, who is tied with Tomas Fleischmann for the team lead in goals (22) and points (49), and Kulikov also were doubtful for Thursday's game against Boston but wouldn't rule out the possibility they’d return for the last game of the homestand, Saturday against Buffalo.

Versteeg has missed the last seven games because of a lower-body injury, while Kulikov has missed 21 after undergoing knee surgery in January.

Forward Jack Skille, meanwhile, definitely won't play during the homestand and there's a possibility he might be done for the season.

Skille sustained an upper-body injury in Friday night’s 2-1 shootout loss at Pittsburgh when he collided with teammate Sean Bergenheim.

Earlier this season, Skille sat out 20 games with a shoulder injury that occurred when he slammed into the boards while attempting to throw a body check.

"I know it's going to be a while, certainly long term," Dineen said. "Until I hear the actual words that he's done for the season, that hasn't been told to me yet, but I would not expect to see him certainly for quite a while."

Dineen didn't indicate who would start in net for the Panthers on Tuesday, but it seems likely Jose Theodore will make his fifth consecutive start.

After allowing five goals on 35 shots during Thursday's 5-0 loss at Philadelphia, Theodore stopped 67 of 68 shots in the last two games -- the shootout loss at Pittsburgh and a 2-0 victory against Carolina on Sunday.

For the Leafs, Jonas Gustavsson has started the last six games, but coach Randy Carlyle also declined to say who would be in the net Tuesday night.

Instead of Gustavsson, Carlyle could choose to go with James Reimer, whose last start came Feb. 28 against those same Florida Panthers when he gave up five goals on 23 shots in a 5-3 loss.

Here are Tuesday's projected lineups for the Maple Leafs and Panthers.

MAPLE LEAFS
Tim Connolly - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin
Carter Ashton - David Steckel - Joey Crabb
Colby Armstrong - Matthew Lombardi - Matt Frattin

Carl Gunnarsson - Dion Phaneuf
John-Michael Liles - Mike Komisarek
Jake Gardiner - Luke Schenn

James Reimer
Jonas Gustavsson

PANTHERS
Wojtek Wolski - Stephen Weiss - Tomas Fleischmann
Sean Bergenheim - Marcel Goc - Mikael Samuelsson
Tomas Kopecky - Shawn Matthias - Mike Santorelli
Marco Sturm - John Madden - Jerred Smithson

Jason Garrison - Brian Campbell
Ed Jovanovski - Erik Gudbranson
Keaton Ellerby - Mike Weaver

Jose Theodore
Scott Clemmensen
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POSTED ON Tuesday, 03.06.2012 / 1:37 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Panthers says Versteeg won't play next two games

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. — The Florida Panthers have been without leading scorer Kris Versteeg for their past four games, and they’ll almost certainly be without him for their back-to-back set at Philadelphia and Pittsburgh Thursday and Friday.

Versteeg has been out with a lower-body injury, with The Miami Herald reporting that it’s a hip problem.

“I don’t think we’re very confident that we’ll have him back this week,” Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said after practice Tuesday. “I hate being so vague, but that’s really where we are. It’s a little beyond day-to-day, but it’s certainly not considered a long-term injury. We don’t expect him for our next couple of games and then we’ll re-evaluate at that time. We’re kind of in that stage right now. We’re looking at it in three- and four-day increments.”

Following the two games in Pennsylvania, the Panthers return home to face the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday.

Versteeg leads the Southeast Division-leading Panthers with 49 points, including a team-high 22 goals.

Prior to sitting out Florida’s 5-3 victory at Toronto on Feb. 28, Versteeg had gone six games without a goal.
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POSTED ON Sunday, 03.04.2012 / 1:12 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Senators-Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Kaspars Daugavins had a season-high two points in Ottawa's last visit to the BankAtlantic Center, but he won't get the chance to duplicate that performance against the Florida Panthers Sunday.

Senators coach Paul MacLean said after the optional morning skate that Daugavins would be a healthy scratch for a third consecutive game. Center Zack Smith, meanwhile, will be scratched for the first time this season.

"We can only play 20 and you have to play well to play," MacLean said. "At this point in the season, people are playing better and that's why they're not playing. You have to earn the right to play in the league and you have to play well on a game-by-game basis. We evaluate on a game-by-game basis and at this point the other 12 forwards are playing better."

MacLean also said that rookie Robin Lehner would make his fourth consecutive start in net. Lehner is 3-1 with a 1.50 GAA, his only defeat coming Friday night when he stopped 37 of 39 shots in a 2-1 loss against Chicago.

For the Panthers, defenseman Ed Jovanovski is expected to return to the lineup after being given what Coach Kevin Dineen called a "maintenance day" Saturday and sitting out the 3-1 loss against Nashville.

With Florida carrying seven defensemen, Dineen will have a decision to make when it comes to who to sit. Rookie Erik Gudbranson didn't play in the last 13 minutes of Saturday's game after he was involved in a bad line change that led to the final goal.

OTTAWA SENATORS

Forwards
Rob Klinkhammer - Kyle Turris - Daniel Alfredsson
Milan Michalek - Jason Spezza - Bobby Butler
Nick Foligno - Jim O'Brien - Chris Neil
Colin Greening - Zenon Konopka - Erik Condra

Defensemen
Filip Kuba - Erik Karlsson
Jared Cowen - Sergei Gonchar
Chris Phillips - Matt Gilroy

Goalie
Robin Lehner

FLORIDA PANTHERS

Forwards
Sean Bergenheim - Stephen Weiss - Mikael Samuelsson
Tomas Fleischmann - Marcel Goc - Wojtek Wolski
Tomas Kopecky - Shawn Matthias - Jack Skille
Marco Sturm - Jerred Smithson - Mike Santorelli

Defensemen
Jason Garrison - Mike Weaver
Ed Jovanovski - Brian Campbell
Keaton Ellerby - Tyson Strachan

Goalies
Jose Theodore
Scott Clemmensen
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Playing for my favorite team growing up, I've probably scored that goal a million times in my driveway. It feels good to actually do it in real life.

— Dale Weise, who grew up a Canadiens fan, on scoring the overtime winner in Montreal's 5-4 victory against Tampa Bay in Game 1