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Posted On Saturday, 01.04.2014 / 1:50 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Panthers coach Horachek faces old boss, friend

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Barry Trotz and Peter Horachek reminisced about their nine years working together with the Nashville Predators when they went to dinner in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Friday night.

It's all business Saturday, though, when the Predators face the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center and Trotz goes up against his former right-hand man for the first time.

"Obviously we didn't share any secrets," said Trotz, the only coach the Predators have had since they joined the NHL in 1998. "That's taboo. It was the first time I got to see Peter since he left the organization. I would do the same if it was vice versa or he was coming to Nashville. We just caught up on old times."

Horachek was an assistant on Trotz's staff for the past nine seasons, serving as associate coach the last two.

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Posted On Saturday, 01.04.2014 / 1:02 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Panthers' Jovanovski erases doubts, excited for return

SUNRISE, Fla. — Ed Jovanovski admitted Saturday morning there were several times during the past several months when he wondered whether he would ever play another NHL game.

His perseverance has paid off, and the Florida Panthers captain is set to make his season debut Saturday against the Nashville Predators at BB&T Center.

"I'm excited, for sure," Jovanovski said after the Panthers' morning skate. "It's been a long while. For me, there's been a lot of days where it beats up on you, but it's all worth it for having the opportunity to play a game again."

Jovanovski will be playing his first game after having hip resurfacing surgery April 5. He played six games last season, none after March 16.

The veteran defenseman first was injured Jan. 29 against the Tampa Bay Lightning and missed 22 games. He came back for the one game in March against the New York Islanders, but his return lasted less than two periods.

"For the most part, I remained positive throughout this whole process, listened to the doctors, listened to our trainers," Jovanovski said. "I was on a pretty good program to get to where I am today. Hopefully all that hard work and all the listening that I had hopefully is going to pay off for me."

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Posted On Saturday, 12.28.2013 / 1:22 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Zetterberg, Abdelkader back in Red Wings lineup

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Just like the Detroit Red Wings' first visit to BB&T Center on Dec. 10, they will have one of their star players back in the lineup Saturday night against the Florida Panthers.

Center Henrik Zetterberg will be in action for the first time since Dec. 1 after missing 11 games because of a back injury.

"I'm glad to be back playing," Zetterberg said. "It's been a while. Just to come back and play with the boys, it's going to be fun."

The Red Wings also are expected to have forward Justin Abdelkader back after he missed five games because of a concussion.

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Posted On Monday, 12.23.2013 / 7:31 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Panthers' Gudbranson has surgery; Petrovic recalled

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Florida Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson will be out indefinitely after undergoing surgery on his orbital bone Monday.

Gudbranson sustained the injury during a 5-2 loss against the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night, though he never left the game. He played 18:12 against the Jets and was on the ice when the final buzzer sounded.

A timetable for his return will be announced in the near future. A complete recovery is expected.


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Posted On Friday, 12.13.2013 / 1:24 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Panthers' Thomas day-to-day with lower-body injury

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Florida Panthers goalie Tim Thomas will miss the game against the Washington Capitals on Friday because of a lower-body injury, but will be on the team's Canadian trip next week. He's considered day-to-day.

Thomas, who has started 15 of the Panthers' past 16 games, was injured during practice Thursday. It's the third time this season Thomas has been injured.

Thomas missed four games in mid-October after being forced to leave in the first period of a game against the Philadelphia Flyers. In his third game back, he left the ice late in the third period of a 3-2 shootout loss against the Chicago Blackhawks.

"With him, needing him in this situation, we just want to be overly cautious," Panthers interim coach Peter Horachek said after the morning skate. "We just want to be extra safe."

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.10.2013 / 2:53 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Red Wings' Weiss makes initial return to Florida

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Detroit center Stephen Weiss didn't try to downplay the significance of his return to South Florida.

The Florida Panthers' all-time leader in games played and assists will face his former team for a second consecutive game Tuesday night, but this one will be his first game back at BB&T Center, where he played the past decade.

"First time back, real excited to get the game underway," Weiss said after the Red Wings' morning skate. "The last few days I've been thinking about it quite a bit. I'm just real excited to start.

"It felt strange for sure [walking into the arena]. I really didn't know which way to come in the building, didn't know really where to go when we got in. A different feeling for sure coming to the rink. Just excited to get the game underway, but it certainly feels a little bit strange being on the other side."

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.10.2013 / 1:40 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Red Wings get Datsyuk back in lineup

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk will make his much-anticipated return to the lineup Tuesday night against the Florida Panthers.

Datsyuk will be back after missing seven games because of a concussion he sustained as a result of an elbow from Ottawa Senators defenseman Jared Cowen on Nov. 23.

The Red Wings managed to post a 5-2-0 record during Datsyuk's absence, but have lost two of their past three. In their most recent game, the Red Wings lost to the Panthers 2-1 at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday.

"It means a lot [to have Datsyuk back], but it means a lot over the long haul," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said after his team's morning skate. "If we're looking at Pavel and counting on Pavel to get 'er done, that's not how it works. We have to be way better than we were last game. The bottom line is Pavel gives us lots of confidence, he's a real good player, but the rest of us gotta play better than we did."

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Posted On Thursday, 12.05.2013 / 12:41 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Jets minus Kane again; Kulikov back in for Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Winnipeg Jets will play a second consecutive game without left wing Evander Kane on Thursday night against the Florida Panthers, but he should be back in the lineup before too long.

Kane, who was injured in a 2-1 loss against the Philadelphia Flyers this past Friday, will be evaluated on a daily basis after tests didn't reveal any structural damage.

"We didn't see anything there that would cause us to be alarmed," Jets coach Claude Noel said before his team's optional skate Thursday. "He's just day-to-day. He's got to work his way through this. He won't be a player in tonight's game, but we'll just take it one day at a time."

With Kane sitting out, the Jets beat the New York Rangers 5-2 Monday to improve to 3-1-0 on their season-long six-game road trip, which concludes Saturday with a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.03.2013 / 1:37 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Panthers to scratch Kulikov against Senators

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, a former first-round pick who recently has been the subject of trade rumors, will be a healthy scratch Tuesday when the Florida Panthers play host to the Ottawa Senators at BB&T Center.

The move comes after a series of costly turnovers in recent games, the latest an errant pass in his zone that led to a Pittsburgh Penguins goal in a 5-2 loss Saturday.

"I think that's a good thing for a lot of players," Panthers coach Peter Horachek said. "They have to go through this process. They have to be accountable to their teammates, and when we decide that it's best for him, sometimes it's good just to sit back and see it. And you come back with a whole new approach to the game. Nobody wants to be in that situation, but sometimes it's just necessary."

The 14th selection in the 2009 NHL Draft, Kulikov, 23, has three points and a minus-9 rating this season, his fifth in the League. Kulikov said he was surprised by the decision.

"I don't think I've been playing bad enough to get thrown out of the lineup," Kulikov said. "But it's a coach's decision. I'm disappointed. That's the only way to describe it. I'm going to work hard to get back in the lineup."

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Posted On Saturday, 11.30.2013 / 12:30 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Winchester back for Panthers against Penguins

SUNRISE, Fla. — The Florida Panthers will have right wing Jesse Winchester back in the lineup Saturday when they try to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins at home for the second time this season.

Winchester missed the past four games because of a lower-body injury sustained in a 4-1 loss against the Edmonton Oilers on Nov. 21. Winchester, signed as a free agent this summer after he spent all of 2012-13 playing in Europe, was one of Florida's most productive forwards earlier this season.

He had a run of five points in six games (three goals, two assists) before serving a three-game suspension for an elbow to the head of Boston Bruins center Chris Kelly.

"He works hard in all three areas of the rink," Panthers interim coach Peter Horachek said after the morning skate Saturday. "He's not afraid to go into the hard areas. He's pretty good on the walls. That's one of the areas before I got here that he was one of the players who were doing what they needed to do and living up to their responsibilities. He's a good kid, he works hard, and he's kind of a workhorse that people can follow and use as an example."

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Quote of the Day

You get the right the whistles at the right times, you can leave him out there. He's a beast when it comes to being on the ice. I thought [Saturday] he was a big man. That first period, he did that lateral cut and it was like three bowling pins bounced off him. There's not too many guys that can do that.

— Capitals coach Barry Trotz on Alex Ovechkin, who enters February tied for the NHL lead in goals