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Gudbranson returns for Panthers; Kovalev sits

Thursday, 02.07.2013 / 12:21 PM
2012-2013 At the Rink blog
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2012-2013 At the Rink blog
Gudbranson returns for Panthers; Kovalev sits

PHILADELPHIA -- The Florida Panthers will have two new faces in the lineup, and one very familiar one sitting out.

Veteran forward Alex Kovalev will be a healthy scratch for the first time this season, with Jack Skille replacing him in the lineup.

Kovalev, 39, had a goal and two assists opening night, but has one goal since then.

"We're always looking to experiment and try different things, and every day is a different day," Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. "Tonight we'll get a look at what our options are game time and go from there."

Skille has sat out the past two games, and has no points in seven games this season. However, Dineen is hoping to see a little extra energy in his return to the lineup.

"He needs to get out there and whenever he makes the lineup, make sure his presence is known," Dineen said of Skille. "I would expect that after you've been out for a couple games, you're going to have some bounce to your step."

On defense, Erik Gudbranson will make his season debut, and likely be paired with Brian Campbell.

Gudbranson injured his shoulder during the summer and finally returned to game action last week with the San Antonio Rampage, the Panthers' American Hockey League team.

Here is how the Panthers' lineup could look when they face the Flyers here at Wells Fargo Center on Thursday:

Tomas Fleischmann - Stephen Weiss - Peter Mueller

Jonathan Huberdeau - Drew Shore - Kris Versteeg

Tomas Kopecky - Marcel Goc - Jack Skille

Shawn Matthias - Jerred Smithson - George Parros

Erik Gudbranson - Brian Campbell

Filip Kuba - Tyson Strachan

Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver

Jose Theodore

Scott Clemmensen

Scratched: Alex Kovalev, Keaton Ellerby

Injured: Ed Jovanovski, Scottie Upshall

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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That was something I've been dreaming of, something I've told myself before the third period I was going to do ... It was an amazing feeling. It's hard to describe. I didn't believe it went in at first but when I saw all the reaction and all the fans going crazy and my teammates going crazy, it's just an unbelievable feeling. I didn't know what to do. I didn't know whether to jump or just skate and do a Theo Fleury. I don't think I'm the same caliber player he is so I couldn't do it.

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