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At the Rink blog

Flu sidelines Panthers' leading scorer Versteeg

Wednesday, 02.01.2012 / 1:40 PM

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

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers will be without their leading scorer when they face the Washington Capitals Wednesday night in a battle for first place in the Southeast Division.

Coach Kevin Dineen said after the Panthers' morning skate that right wing Kris Versteeg would miss the game because of the flu.

Versteeg, who also missed practice on Monday and Tuesday, leads the Panthers with 43 points (19 goals, 24 assists).

His place on the top line with Tomas Fleischmann and Stephen Weiss is expected to be taken by veteran Tomas Kopecky.

Versteeg is one of six Panthers players who will miss the game because of injury -- also out are defensemen Ed Jovanovski and Dmitry Kulikov, forwards Jack Skille and Scottie Upshall, and goalie Jose Theodore.

Dineen said Wednesday that Theodore has been bothered by a knee he injured against Montreal on New Year's Eve and will be given a few days off.

The Panthers called up goalie Brian Foster from San Antonio on Wednesday to back up veteran Scott Clemmensen.

The one piece of good news for the Panthers on the injury front is the expected return of veteran forward Marco Sturm, who has been out since sustaining a concussion on Dec. 20. Sturm was injured when he was hit by a puck in the face while sitting on the bench.

Here is the projected lineup:

Tomas Fleischmann - Stephen Weiss - Tomas Kopecky
Shawn Matthias - Marcel Goc - Mikael Samuelsson
Marco Sturm - John Madden - Sean Bergenheim
Krystofer Barch - Mike Santorelli - Matt Bradley

Jason Garrison - Mike Weaver
Brian Campbell - Erik Gudbranson
Keaton Ellerby - Tyson Strachan

Scott Clemmensen
Brian Foster

Playing for my favorite team growing up, I've probably scored that goal a million times in my driveway. It feels good to actually do it in real life.

— Dale Weise, who grew up a Canadiens fan, on scoring the overtime winner in Montreal's 5-4 victory against Tampa Bay in Game 1