COYOTES (27-37-9) at PANTHERS (31-30-11)
7:30 p.m. ET; FS-A, FS-F, NHL.TV
Coyotes team scope
Arizona Coyotes rookie defenseman Jakob Chychrun will have a homecoming at BB&T Center. Chychrun was born in Boca Raton and played for the Florida Junior Panthers from at the age of 5. His father Jeff, who played 262 games in eight NHL seasons, has had Panthers season tickets for years and will be among more than 50 family, friends and former youth league teammates at the game. "It's awesome," Jacob said after morning skate. "I grew up coming to the games here and [have] lots of good memories going to these games here. It's pretty cool to be on the other end of it now. It's going to be hard not to look up there; it'll definitely be weird. We have so many good memories here. I grew up a Panthers fan and to be playing against them now is pretty cool." Mike Smith will make his 50th start of the season one day after celebrating his 35th birthday. Smith is three victories shy of Ilya Bryzgalov's franchise record of 130. Louis Domingue made 36 saves in a 5-3 victory at the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday. The Coyotes, who have been eliminated from playoff contention, are 1-1-0 on a five-game road trip that concludes with games against the Washington Capitals on Saturday and the St. Louis Blues on Monday.
Panthers team scope
Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad will be out of the lineup for the fifth time in six games. Coach Tom Rowe said Ekblad has a minor neck injury unrelated to the concussion that kept him out for four games before he returned in a 4-3 loss against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday. Jakub Kindl, who replaced Ekblad after being a healthy scratch for 19 consecutive games, will play. Goaltender James Reimer make his ninth start in 10 games after Reto Berra started against Carolina. The Panthers are 3-10-1 in their past 14 games and are nine points behind the Boston Bruins for the second wild card spot into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference with one game in hand. "We had a team meeting (Wednesday)," Rowe said. "I told them we're still in this thing and expect everybody to come ready to play hard every single night and I expect everybody to stay positive. My job as the head coach is to make sure the guys are being motivated. I'm going to lean on them and we're going to push them as a staff. Everybody's got to stay positive. It's been an awful year. Everybody knows that. We had expectations to do a lot better than we did, and we haven't. Everybody can talk about the changes all they want, but as I told them that's behind us and we've got to move on and we've got to mature as a group and we've got to get to the playoffs."
Coyotes projected lineup
Max Domi -- Christian Dvorak -- Radim Vrbata
Brendan Perlini -- Jordan Martinook -- Tobias Rieder
Lawson Crouse -- Josh Jooris -- Jamie McGinn
Teemu Pulkkinen -- Christian Fischer -- Anthony Duclair
Oliver Ekman-Larsson -- Luke Schenn
Alex Goligoski -- Connor Murphy
Jakob Chychrun -- Zbynek Michalek
Scratched: Peter Holland, Anthony DeAngelo
Injured: Brad Richardson (broken leg), Kevin Connauton (upper body), Shane Doan (lower body), Alexander Burmistrov (concussion)
Panthers projected lineup
Jonathan Huberdeau -- Aleksander Barkov - Jaromir Jagr
Jussi Jokinen -- Vincent Trocheck -- Reilly Smith
Thomas Vanek -- Nick Bjugstad -- Jonathan Marchessault
Shawn Thornton - Derek MacKenzie - Colton Sceviour
Keith Yandle -- Jason Demers
Michael Matheson -- Mark Pysyk
Jakub Kindl -- Alex Petrovic
Scratched: Michael Sgarbossa, Denis Malgin
Injured: Roberto Luongo (lower body), Aaron Ekblad (neck)
Doan will miss his fourth game, but coach Dave Tippett said he was making progress and could be available Saturday against Washington. … The Panthers will go with the same forward lines for the sixth consecutive game. Luongo will miss his 10th game because of a hip injury. He has yet to return to practice.
Ekman-Larsson had a goal in back-to-back games. Fischer's goal against Tampa Bay was his third in four games this season. … Vanek had six assists in his past five games. Barkov has eight points (four goals, four assists) in his past seven games.