SUNRISE, Fla. - Florida Panthers right wing Kris Versteeg will be back in the lineup Friday night against the Winnipeg Jets after missing 12 games because of an upper-body injury.
Versteeg's return comes at a good time considering the success he's had against Winnipeg. Versteeg has eight goals against the Jets during the past two seasons, including his only tally this season.
With Versteeg in the lineup, Jerred Smithson will join Alex Kovalev as a healthy scratch for the Panthers.
Jacob Markstrom, who was pulled after allowing goals on the first two shots he faced in Thursday's 7-1 loss against the Washington Capitals, will be back in net for the Panthers.
He'll go against Ondrej Pavelec, who will be making his 11th start in 12 games for the Jets. After starting 10 consecutive games, Pavelec got the night off Thursday when Al Montoya stopped 28 of 29 shots in a 2-1 victory at Tampa Bay.
Pavelec and Markstrom faced each other Tuesday night when the Panthers beat the Jets 4-1 at the BB&T Center.
For six months, it's a really good accomplishment. But as soon as April [11, the end of the regular season] comes around, no one thinks about the regular season anymore. For six months, it's a real battle to get into the playoffs in the NHL these days. There are a lot of good teams, and it takes consistency over a long time.
— Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau on clinching a playoff berth after a win against the Islanders on Saturday