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At the Rink blog

Struggling Panthers hoping to end skid, hold off Jets

Saturday, 01.21.2012 / 1:30 PM

By Patrick Williams - NHL.com Correspondent / At the Rink blog

WINNIPEG – The Florida Panthers made it to Winnipeg after their snowy ordeal in Chicago, where they lost 3-1 to the Blackhawks.

The Panthers (21-15-10) did not hold a morning skate at MTS Centre before meeting the Jets tonight. Coach Kevin Dineen’s club arrived in Winnipeg desperately trying to fend off the Jets and the Washington Capitals for the Southeast Division’s coveted top spot.

After a strong start to their season, the Panthers have hit major turbulence during the past month and have picked up just three wins in their last 13 games. Florida’s skid has allowed the Capitals and the Jets to climb into the thick of the Southeast Division race after slow starts.

In their loss to the Blackhawks, the Panthers regained the services of forwards Sean Bergenheim, Jack Skille and Scottie Upshall, who had all been sidelined with long-term injuries. However, Florida is without defenseman Ed Jovanovski (hand) on their blue line, while goaltender Jacob Markstrom and left wing Marco Sturm are also out with injuries.

Jose Theodore is expected to start for the Panthers.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for Florida:

PANTHERS

Tomas Fleischmann - Stephen Weiss - Kris Versteeg
Mikael Samuelsson - Marcel Goc - Tomas Kopecky
Scottie Upshall - John Madden - Matt Bradley
Krys Barch - Shawn Matthias - Jack Skille

Jason Garrison - Brian Campbell
Keaton Ellerby - Erik Gudbranson
Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver

Jose Theodore
Scott Clemmensen

For me, it's a great win for our hockey team and for a lot of people back in Columbus, especially our fans in particular … people who have been devoted to this organization, it's big.

— Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards on their win vs. the Penguins in Game 2, the franchise's first-ever Stanley Cup Playoff victory