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Posted On Sunday, 04.05.2015 / 11:14 AM

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

At the Rink: Canadiens at Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Montreal Canadiens will look to reclaim first place in the Atlantic Division when they face the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center on Sunday (5 p.m. ET; SN, RDS, FS-F).

The Canadiens (47-22-10) will come in tied for first place in the division with the Tampa Bay Lightning with 104 points, but with a game in hand.

Montreal will be looking to avoid its first four-game losing streak of the season after losing 5-3 against Tampa Bay on Monday and dropping shootout decisions against the Washington Capitals (5-4) and New Jersey Devils (3-2) on Thursday and Friday, respectively.

The Canadiens are 1-2-3 in their past six games.

Posted On Saturday, 04.04.2015 / 1:28 PM

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

At the Rink: Lightning at Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Center Tyler Johnson is expected back in the lineup for the Tampa Bay Lightning when they face the Florida Panthers on Saturday and try to clinch home-ice advantage for the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs (7 p.m. ET; SUN, FS-F).

Johnson, the Lightning’s second-leading scorer with 67 points, missed the past three games because of an upper-body injury.

Coach John Cooper declined to confirm if Johnson would play, but Johnson was on a line with Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov during morning skate.

Tampa Bay (47-24-8) needs one point to clinch at least second place in the Atlantic Division. Tampa Bay trails the Montreal Canadiens by two points for first place, but holds the tiebreaker advantage with four more regular or overtime victories.

Posted On Thursday, 04.02.2015 / 12:43 PM

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

At the Rink: Hurricanes at Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Two nights after their playoff hopes were severely damaged, the Florida Panthers will be back in action Thursday against the Carolina Hurricanes (7:30 p.m. ET; FS-CR, FS-F).

The Panthers (35-27-15) squandered a 2-1 third-period lead Tuesday in a 3-2 loss against the Boston Bruins to fall six points behind the Bruins for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. After being 20 minutes away from moving to within two points of the Bruins, the Panthers will be eliminated from playoff contention Thursday if they lose in regulation and the Bruins beat the Detroit Red Wings.

Florida also trails the Ottawa Senators by three points, and Ottawa has a game in hand.

"We're going to stay in the moment and we need a big win against Carolina," captain Willie Mitchell said after the morning skate Thursday. "We can't control other people, what they're doing. Obviously we put ourselves in this situation. What we control is what we do as a hockey club."

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."

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.

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.

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.

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."

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.

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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Quote of the Day

There's standards that this team is going to play to and there are expectations. We're going to hold these guys accountable to high standards.

— Coach Dave Lowry on Canada's junior team, the defending IIHF World Junior champions