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Posted On Sunday, 03.01.2015 / 10:30 AM

By Alain Poupart - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Lightning at Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning are back on the road Sunday when they will look to continue their dominance against the Florida Panthers.

The Lightning will play on the road for the sixth time in seven games before beginning a stretch of nine home games out of their next 11.

Tampa Bay has won the past five games against Florida, including a 3-2 overtime victory in the 2014-15 season opener.

The Lightning's three goals that night came on the power play, including defenseman Victor Hedman's game-winner 1:11 into the extra period.

Erik Gudbranson and Jonathan Huberdeau scored for the Panthers.

Ben Bishop made 19 saves for the Lightning while improving to 5-0-0 with a 1.89 goals-against average in five career games against the Panthers.

Posted On Thursday, 02.26.2015 / 5:43 PM

By Alain Poupart - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Blackhawks at Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers expressed more concern about the race for the Stanley Cup Playoffs than possible retribution for a hit that injured star forward Patrick Kane as they prepared to play the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday in the back end of a home-and-home set.

"We have to get two points, so it's not something that we're worried about," said Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell, a former teammate of Kane's with the Blackhawks. "I know they would love to start getting on a roll and playing better as well."

The Blackhawks placed Kane on long-term injured reserve Wednesday after he sustained a broken left clavicle crashing into the boards in the first period of their 3-2 shootout victory Tuesday. Kane lost his balance after defenseman Alex Petrovic pushed him. He is expected to miss 12 weeks.

Petrovic was assessed a minor penalty for cross-checking on the play.

"That hit was an accident," said Petrovic, who was recalled from San Antonio of the American Hockey League on Jan. 28 and will play his 16th game of the season Thursday. "He fell into the boards. I didn't intend to injure anyone or target anyone. It just happened. Tonight obviously they're going to come out hard and probably seek revenge or whatnot. But we've got to get two. It's a big two points so I think at the end of the day that's what we're here for."

The Panthers acquired forward Jaromir Jagr on Thursday in a trade with the New Jersey Devils; Jagr is not expected to play this game.

Posted On Sunday, 02.15.2015 / 10:59 AM

By Alain Poupart - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Blues at Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Before embarking on what could become a season-defining road trip, the Florida Panthers will face the streaking St. Louis Blues with a depleted defenseman corps.

The Panthers have been without captain Willie Mitchell for the past five games because of an upper-body injury and he's expected to be out again Sunday. Dmitry Kulikov will miss the game because of his NHL suspension after he was given a major penalty for clipping and a game misconduct for his low hit on Dallas Stars forward Tyler Seguin on Friday. Kulikov's phone hearing with the League office is scheduled for Monday after the defenseman waived his right to an in-person hearing.

To replace Kulikov, the Panthers recalled veteran Shane O'Brien from the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League. O'Brien played four games in early January in his first call-up.

Posted On Tuesday, 02.10.2015 / 1:50 PM

By Alain Poupart - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Ducks at Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Anaheim Ducks will turn to veteran goalie Ilya Bryzgalov when they face the Florida Panthers on Tuesday after placing goaltender Frederik Andersen on injured reserve.

Bryzgalov has struggled since joining the Ducks on Dec. 9, going 1-3-1 with a 3.95 goals-against average and an .859 save percentage but he's coming off his best start of the season. He made 32 saves in regulation and overtime in a 3-2 shootout loss against the Washington Capitals on Feb. 6.

To replace Andersen the Ducks recalled opening-night starting goalie John Gibson from the Norfolk Admirals of the American Hockey League. Gibson went 2-2-0 with a 2.28 GAA and a .927 save percentage in four games with the Ducks before sustaining a groin injury in pregame warmups Nov. 2.

Gibson missed 21 games before being reassigned Dec. 17 to Norfolk, where he is 6-3-2 with a .935 save percentage in 11 games.

Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said the decision to go with Bryzgalov instead of Gibson was pretty simple.

Posted On Thursday, 02.05.2015 / 1:24 PM

By Alain Poupart - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Kings at Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers will be without captain Willie Mitchell when they face the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday in a battle of teams looking to make a late-season push for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Mitchell, who joined the Panthers as a free agent last July after helping the Kings win the Stanley Cup in 2012 and 2014, sustained an upper-body injury in a 4-2 victory against the New York Islanders on Tuesday.

To replace the veteran defenseman, Florida recalled Steven Kampfer from the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League.

Kampfer has played in 61 NHL games, but the most recent came March 31, 2012, when he was a member of the Minnesota Wild. The opponent that night also was Los Angeles.

Posted On Thursday, 01.29.2015 / 2:36 PM

By Alain Poupart - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Blue Jackets at Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. — Injuries continues to be an issue for the Columbus Blue Jackets, but they'll have veteran center Artem Anisimov back in the lineup Thursday night against the Florida Panthers.

Anisimov will return after missing 23 games because of a torn triceps. Anisimov, who has two goals and four assists in 16 games, hasn't played since Nov. 29 against the Nashville Predators.

"Obviously it gives us depth and it gives us experience down the middle," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. "Getting [Anisimov] back, we know what he can bring to this team. He can bring some offensive skill, good penalty killer, lots of different things. [He] plays the game smart positionally, so he's a guy that's relied upon."

This will be the first time all season that the Columbus lineup will include the team's four projected centers.

Posted On Tuesday, 01.27.2015 / 1:16 PM

By Alain Poupart - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Red Wings at Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Detroit Red Wings and Florida Panthers, who were headed in opposite directions before the All-Star break, will play Tuesday at BB&T Center.

The Red Wings will be looking to extend their season-best five-game winning streak when they visit the Panthers, who are trying to end their season-worst four-game skid.

The Panthers also need to win to make up ground in the Eastern Conference standings.

Florida (20-14-10) is ninth in the Eastern Conference, seven points behind the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals. Florida has played four fewer games than Boston and two fewer than Washington.

Detroit (27-11-9) is tied for the second-most points in the Eastern Conference with the New York Islanders, although New York has a game in hand.

"When you look at that over the break, we're seven points back now," Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said. "Even though we've got four games in hand, we've got to win those games. We've got to make sure we're battling hard. The next 10 games are real big. We've got to battle hard, we've got to stay in that race. If we're going to be a playoff team, we've got to make sure we're winning some hockey games."

Posted On Saturday, 01.17.2015 / 1:19 PM

By Alain Poupart - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Oilers at Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Edmonton Oilers will be looking for that elusive road victory Saturday night when they face the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center, and they also will be looking for some scoring from somebody other than red-hot Benoit Pouliot.

Pouliot has scored Edmonton's past five goals over the past three games, including a 4-2 loss against Florida on Sunday, and road losses against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday and the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.

Since returning after missing 16 games because of a broken foot, Pouliot has seven goals in seven games. He has six goals during a four-game goal streak.

"Sometimes that happens when a player gets injured and gets some time from the game and mentally he's refreshed," Oilers coach Todd Nelson said after the morning skate. "He's playing a solid two-way game, but the most noticeable thing is that he’s hungry around the net and he's going to the net hard and he's creating traffic. But also he's following his shot to the net or if there's a shot to the net he goes to the net and stops and tries to bang in rebounds, and he's really tenacious on the puck."

Posted On Thursday, 01.15.2015 / 2:00 PM

By Alain Poupart - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Avalanche at Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers will play at home Thursday for the first time in 2015 and look to rebound from a disappointing ending to what otherwise was a successful road trip.

The Panthers will face the Colorado Avalanche at BB&T Center fresh off a six-game road trip on which they went 4-2-0. The trip featured Florida's first three-game winning streak of the season, but ended with an 8-2 loss against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday.

To make matters worse, problems with a charter plane caused the Panthers' return home Wednesday to be delayed four hours.

The game against Colorado begins a five-game homestand sandwiched around the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game.

"We feel good," Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said after the morning skate. "We had a good loose practice this morning to get ready for tonight. We finished 4-2 on a tough road trip that we played real well on for the most part. We're looking forward to tonight's game and the next two games and then we get a nice break after that. Hopefully we can carry the momentum and play real well at home."

Posted On Wednesday, 12.31.2014 / 10:06 AM

By Alain Poupart - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Rangers at Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Brothers Jimmy Hayes and Kevin Hayes will face each other in the NHL for the first time Wednesday when the New York Rangers and Florida Panthers play New Year's Eve for the second consecutive season.

Jimmy Hayes is second on the Panthers with 10 goals, including three in the past three games.

Kevin Hayes, who followed Jimmy at Boston College, is tied for 11th among NHL rookies with 13 points. He had a goal Monday in Rangers' 3-2 loss to the Dallas Stars.

That defeat snapped New York's eight-game winning streak, their longest in 40 years.

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I'm a hockey player and that's what I love to do. That is what I am here for. Everything else is just a side note.

— Oilers forward Connor McDavid on moving beyond the anticipation of his long-awaited arrival in the NHL