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Posted On Thursday, 03.19.2015 / 12:40 PM

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

At the Rink: Red Wings at Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. -- All-Star goalie Roberto Luongo will be back in the lineup Thursday when the Florida Panthers face the Detroit Red Wings at BB&T Center (7:30 p.m. ET, NHLN-US).

Luongo missed the past six games after sustaining a shoulder injury in a 3-2 loss against the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 3. After leaving the game following the first period and going to the hospital for tests, Luongo went back in for the last 9:08 of the third period after backup Al Montoya sustained a groin injury.

"[Luongo] has been our MVP all year long," Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said after the morning skate. "He's been a great player for us and a great leader and a great character. He's going to come in tonight and try to do his best. He'll work hard and compete hard and I'm sure the guys will be excited to see him."

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.17.2015 / 12:55 PM

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

At the Rink: Canadiens at Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo took part in the morning skate Tuesday for the first time since sustaining a shoulder injury two weeks ago, but he'll miss his sixth consecutive game when the Panthers play the Montreal Canadiens at BB&T Center.

"It's getting a lot better," Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said of Luongo's right shoulder. "He's not 100 percent but it's getting real close. It's good to take a full morning skate and hopefully that will lead to a full practice tomorrow. [He's] getting closer and getting better but still not in tonight."

With Al Montoya still out because of a groin injury sustained after he replaced Luongo in a 3-2 home loss against the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 3, Dan Ellis will make his sixth straight start for the Panthers.

Ellis has been impressive since being recalled from the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League, going 3-1-1 with a 1.95 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage.

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Posted On Thursday, 03.12.2015 / 1:56 PM

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

At the Rink: Jets at Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers once again will be without their top two goalies when they play the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday after a four-day break. But they will have their full complement of skaters.

Center Dave Bolland will be back in the lineup after missing eight games because of an upper-body injury. His return was delayed when he had to miss practice last week because of the flu.

The flu went around the Panthers locker room and five players each missed one game last week because of it. But all five, defensemen Willie Mitchell, Erik Gudbranson and Aaron Ekblad, and with forwards Jaromir Jagr and Tomas Kopecky, will be available against the Jets.

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Posted On Saturday, 03.07.2015 / 6:50 PM

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

Panthers' Ekblad, Kopecky to miss game with flu

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Rookie defenseman Aaron Ekblad and forward Tomas Kopecky will become the fourth and fifth Florida Panthers players to miss a game this week because of the flu.

Ekblad and Kopecky will miss the game against the New York Islanders on Saturday, two nights after forward Jaromir Jagr and defensemen Willie Mitchell and Erik Gudbranson missed a 4-3 shootout loss against the Dallas Stars.

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Posted On Saturday, 03.07.2015 / 1:46 PM

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

At the Rink: Islanders at Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Goalie Michal Neuvirth will make his New York Islanders debut Saturday against a Florida Panthers team still affected by the flu.

Panthers defensemen Erik Gudbranson and Willie Mitchell and forward Jaromir Jagr took part in the morning skate after missing the 4-3 shootout loss against the Dallas Stars on Thursday because of flu-like symptoms, but rookie defenseman Aaron Ekblad and forward Tomas Kopecky were absent for the same reason.

Ekblad, the first pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, has played in all 65 games.

Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said he wouldn’t know the status of some of his players until 4:30 p.m., 2 1/2 hours before the opening faceoff.

"Every team goes through that sometime during the season," Gallant said. "It's just a bad time for us with the flu. But, hey, we'll get 20 guys in the lineup tonight and I think most of them will be healthy and we'll work hard. You don't make excuses. Every team goes through it."

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Posted On Thursday, 03.05.2015 / 2:34 PM

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

At the Rink: Stars at Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Exactly one year after being acquired in a trade with the Dallas StarsFlorida Panthersgoalie Dan Ellis will start against his former team Thursday at BB&T Center.

Ellis will make his first start of the season after being recalled Wednesday from the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League in the aftermath of the injuries sustained by Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya in a 3-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs the night before.

Luongo, who left the game after the first period with a shoulder injury before returning with 9:08 left in the third, is expected to miss at least the next two games.

The Panthers play the New York Islanders on Saturday before having four days off.

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.03.2015 / 1:58 PM

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

At the Rink: Maple Leafs at Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Now that the NHL Trading Deadline has passed, the struggling Toronto Maple Leafs can get back to trying to turn around a season headed in the wrong direction.

The Maple Leafs, who made two trades Monday, return to action Tuesday against the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center, when they will look to end a franchise-worst 16-game road losing streak (0-14-2).

"We can relax a little bit, there's not as much pressure right now," defenseman Jake Gardiner said. "Playing in Toronto, there's a lot of pressure all the time and now there's not as much. Guys can relax and enjoy it, but at the same time still work their butts off and hopefully start getting some wins."

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Posted On Sunday, 03.01.2015 / 10:30 AM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 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.

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Posted On Thursday, 02.26.2015 / 5:43 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 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.

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Posted On Sunday, 02.15.2015 / 10:59 AM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 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.

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Quote of the Day

It was a big dream. [Messi] is probably the best athlete out there, so it's a big honor, for [Kuznetzov] as well. It's maybe a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet the best player in soccer right now. I'm a big Barcelona fan and Messi fan, so it's huge. You can take [Michael] Jordan, [Mark] Messier, [Wayne] Gretzky, those kinds of [people]. It's an honor to meet. It's nice to be in that position.

— Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin told told Monumental Network after meeting soccer star Lionel Messi prior to Argentina's practice at Fed Ex Field in Landover, Md. on Friday