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Panthers' Huberdeau out against Coyotes

Barkov, Gudbranson return for first-place Florida

by NHL.com / NHL.com

COYOTES (27-27-6) at PANTHERS (34-18-7)

TV: 7:30 p.m. ET; FS-A PLUS, FS-F, NHL.TV

The Florida Panthers welcome back two key players, forward Aleksander Barkov and defenseman Erik Gudbranson, when they host the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday at BB&T Center.

Barkov had missed the past six games and Gudbranson the past eight with upper-body injuries.

At the same time, the Panthers lost a key player from the lineup, forward Jonathan Huberdeau, who sustained an upper-body injury Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets and was placed on injured reserve Thursday.

This is the finale of a six-game homestand for the Panthers, who are 2-0-1 after losing the first two games.

"You'd like to do better, but overall for some of the key injuries we had I thought the guys played hard and the last three games were real good," coach Gerard Gallant told the Panthers website. "We got one goal against in all three games (the loss was 2-1 in a shootout to the San Jose Sharks) … competed hard, so I'm real happy with the way they're battling."

Florida begins play with a three-point lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning for first place in the Atlantic Division and one game in hand.

"It doesn't change who you play, we just have to keep playing our game and working hard in our game," Gallant said.

Arizona looks to end a three-game losing streak. The Coyotes are eight points behind the Colorado Avalanche for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference and 10 points behind the San Jose Sharks for third place in the Pacific Division and an automatic postseason berth.

"We have to find a way to generate more scoring chances," general manager Don Maloney told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, the Coyotes flagship radio station. "… We're not throwing a towel in. We still have lots of hockey to be played. We have 22 games left and we're still chasing a playoff spot. We have to start winning our games."

Coyotes forward Shane Doan is set to play in his 1,446th NHL game, which will tie Tim Horton for 24th on the all-time list.

Here are the projected lineups:

COYOTES

Max Domi - Antoine Vermette - Mikkel Boedker   
Tobias Rieder - Martin Hanzal - Anthony Duclair   
Jordan Martinook - Brad Richardson - Shane Doan  
Kyle Chipchura - Tyler Gaudet - Viktor Tikhonov

Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Connor Murphy
Kevin Connauton - Michael Stone
Klas Dahlbeck - Zbynek Michalek

Louis Dominque
Niklas Treutle  

Injured: Boyd Gordon (upper body), Mike Smith (abdominal surgery), Joe Vitale (fractured orbital bone), Anders Lindback (lower body)

Scratched: Jarred Tinordi, Nicklas Grossmann

PANTHERS

Jussi Jokinen - Aleksander Barkov - Jaromir Jagr
Reilly Smith - Vincent Trocheck - Nick Bjugstad
Kyle Rau - Derek MacKenzie - Logan Shaw
Garrett Wilson - Greg McKegg - Shawn Thornton

Brian Campbell - Erik Gudbranson
Dmitry Kulikov - Aaron Ekblad   
Steven Kampfer - Alex Petrovic

Roberto Luongo
Al Montoya

Injured: Jonathan Huberdeau (upper body), Brandon Pirri (ankle), Quinton Howden (upper body), Willie Mitchell (lower body), Dave Bolland (lower body)

Scratched: Michael Matheson

Status report: Matheson, who made his NHL debut Saturday and had 14:47 of ice time, will be a healthy scratch with Gudbranson returning.

Who's hot: Martinook has a goal and an assist in his past two games. … Jagr passed Brett Hull for third on the NHL's all-time goals list with No. 742 against the Jets; the 44-year-old has three goals in the past two games, giving him his second 20-goal season since returning to the NHL after three seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League. He scored 24 in 2013-14 for the New Jersey Devils. "It's pretty special what that guy is doing," Doan, 39, told the Coyotes website. "He's pretty incredible."

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