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At the Rink: Panthers at Sabres

by Joe Yerdon

BUFFALO – The Florida Panthers are looking to win their 10th straight game when they play the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; FS-F, MSG-B, BELL TV).

The Panthers (23-12-4) turn to Roberto Luongo to try and extend their franchise-best winning streak and he's had a lot of success at First Niagara Center. Luongo has shut out the Sabres three straight times in Buffalo dating back to the 2013-2014 season.

"He's another veteran guy that prepares himself the same way every day," Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said. "And that's why our young players take off because they watch these guys prepare themselves and get ready for games. They get ready for practices, they get ready for the games, and they're true professionals. But [Luongo] has been great and Al Montoya has been really good for us this year so the goaltending has been a strong point for our club."

In Luongo's career against the Sabres, he's 15-7-2 with a .937 save percentage and a 1.87 goals-against average with five shutouts. Luongo split his first two starts against the Sabres this season at BB&T Center, allowing three goals on 19 shots in a 3-2 loss on Nov. 12.

"It's kind of like a cliché," Sabres forward Evander Kane said. "You talk about goalies before the game and he doesn't like traffic, he doesn't like pucks to the net, he doesn't like guys bumping into him; I don't know what goalie does like that or does enjoy that. It's really the same keys for everybody. … We have to bear down and try to elevate pucks when we're in tight and do the best job we can to get a couple by him."

The Panthers lineup remains unchanged from their 2-1 win against the Minnesota Wild on Sunday.

The Sabres (15-20-4) are looking to end a four-game losing streak and will have changes to their lineup. Forward Tim Schaller was recalled from Rochester of the American Hockey League on Monday and will play. He replaces Nicolas Deslauriers who will miss 3-5 weeks with a lower-body injury.

Defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo replaces Mike Weber on a pairing with Cody Franson. Colaiacovo has been a healthy scratch for the past 11 games and hasn't played since a 5-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Dec. 7.

"I don't expect a player to be all that happy about sitting out," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "I know he's been wanting to get back in pretty desperately. When I told him yesterday he'd be playing this game, he was pretty fired up about this opportunity."

The Sabres turn to Linus Ullmark in goal. Ullmark had 36 saves in the 3-2 victory against the Panthers on Nov. 12.

Here are the projected lineups:


Jonathan HuberdeauAleksander BarkovJaromir Jagr

Jussi JokinenNick BjugstadReilly Smith

Brandon PirriVincent TrocheckLogan Shaw

Quinton HowdenDerek MacKenzieCorban Knight

Brian CampbellErik Gudbranson

Dmitry KulikovAaron Ekblad

Willie MitchellAlex Petrovic

Roberto Luongo

Al Montoya

Injured: Steven Kampfer (lower body), Dave Bolland (lower body)

Scratched: Shawn Thornton


Evander KaneRyan O'ReillySam Reinhart

Jamie McGinnJack EichelZemgus Girgensons

Matt MoulsonJohan LarssonBrian Gionta

Marcus FolignoTim SchallerDavid Legwand

Josh GorgesRasmus Ristolainen

Jake McCabeZach Bogosian

Carlo ColaiacovoCody Franson

Linus Ullmark

Chad Johnson

Injured: Nicolas Deslauriers (lower body), Tyler Ennis (upper body), Mark Pysyk (foot), Robin Lehner (ankle), Cody McCormick (blood clot)

Scratched: Mike Weber

Status update: Bylsma said Lehner and Pysyk will go to Rochester on conditioning assignments over the weekend.

Who's hot: Eichel has a three-game point streak and has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in the past 11 games. Ristolainen has a two-game assist streak… Pirri has a two-game point streak with a goal and an assist.

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