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At the Rink: Panthers at Ducks

by Abbey Mastracco

ANAHEIM -- Jaromir Jagr is set to return to the Florida Panthers lineup Wednesday against the Anaheim Ducks after missing two games with a lower-body injury.

Florida's leading scorer, and the oldest active NHL player at 43 years and eight months, Jagr said he benefitted from acupuncture and rest. He participated fully in the morning skate and said he feels better than he has in recent weeks.

"Acupuncture helped a lot. To me, that's what's working," Jagr said. "It has always worked for me, the needles and the electric steam. The muscles that you use get a little bit tired and there's no support in the place you need, especially in the groin or hips, so all of the sudden you get no muscle support and it's tough to play. But it's going to heal quicker."

At this point in his career, Panthers coach Gerard Gallant gives Jagr freedom to take days off and seek holistic treatments as needed. But it's nothing alternative or tangible that Jagr credits with keeping him healthy. It's the love of the game.

"Everybody knows that the most powerful energy is love," Jagr said. "And if you love it, it's easy to do. You use the most powerful energy in the world."

Jagr is three goals away from tying Marcel Dionne for fourth all-time (731) and two power play points away from tying Nicklas Lidstrom for 11th all-time (590).

Panthers forward Rocco Grimaldi said he's feeling that same kind of energy as he prepares to play in front of a hometown crowd for the first time in his career. Born in Anaheim and raised in nearby Rossmoor until the age of 12, Grimaldi grew up coming to Ducks games. He still skates with a few coaches in the system and calls Seal Beach home in the offseason.

"I'll have about 30 different people here and it's just tremendous to see the support that I have here," Grimaldi said. "I'm not just going out there to play for just me to be out there, I'm really playing for them too, in a sense, because of how many things they've done to get me here. So in a way, it's like they're all out there on the ice with me.

The Ducks ended a five-game losing streak with their win Sunday against the Nashville Predators and coach Bruce Boudreau said he feels they're back on the right track. The forecheck has been a particular point of emphasis in recent practices.

"The first 10 or so games we just weren't generating enough on the forecheck, which is a big staple to our game," said left wing Andrew Cogliano. "We tweaked a few things in the neutral zone, which will help us get more speed and create chances."

Here are the projected lineups:


Jonathan Huberdeau - Nick Bjugstad - Jaromir Jagr

Brandon Pirri - Jussi Jokinen - Reilly Smith

Quinton Howden - Dave Bolland - Vincent Trocheck

Connor Brickley - Derek MacKenzie - Rocco Grimaldi

Brian Campbell - Aaron Ekblad

Dmitry Kulikov - Alex Petrovic

Willie Mitchell - Erik Gudbranson

Roberto Luongo

Al Montoya

Injured: Aleksander Barkov (wrist)

Scratched: Shawn Thornton, Garrett Wilson


Mike Santorelli - Ryan Kesler - Corey Perry

Andrew Cogliano - Shawn Horcoff - Jakob Silfverberg

Carl Hagelin - Rickard Rakell - Chris Stewart

Patrick Maroon - Chris Wagner - Max Friberg

Hampus Lindholm - Kevin Bieksa

Cam Fowler - Korbinian Holzer

Clayton Stoner - Sami Vatanen

Frederik Andersen

Anton Khudobin

Injured: Ryan Getzlaf (appendix), Nate Thompson (shoulder), Josh Manson (upper body), Simon Despres (upper body), Jiri Sekac (lower body)

Scratched: None

Status report: Getzlaf and Thompson were both on the ice for the optional morning skate Wednesday but neither is available yet. Thompson, who had labrum surgery on his left shoulder in the offseason, said he is getting closer. "It was like Christmas for me to be out there with a bunch of guys and not just by myself," he said. … Anaheim reassigned defenseman Joe Piskula to San Diego of the American Hockey League on Monday and left wing Tim Jackman on Tuesday. The Ducks recalled left wing Max Friberg from San Diego on Tuesday. … The Panthers assigned right wing Logan Shaw to Portland of the AHL on Monday and recalled left wing Garrett Wilson.

Who's hot: Jokinen has three points in his last four games. … The Ducks have the third-best penalty kill mark in the League (89.7).

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