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At the Rink: Panthers at Stars

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- The Florida Panthers and Dallas Stars have different goals heading into their game at American Airlines Center on Saturday (8 p.m., ET; FS-SW, FS-F).

Florida (3-3-1), is 0-1-1 on their current three-game road trip, and will need to stay out of the penalty box in order to leave Dallas with a win. The Panthers were shorthanded eight times in a 3-2 loss at the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday.

"Definitely got to play more disciplined and hold ourselves accountable, play harder a little bit and I think it should be a better turnout if we do that," Panthers center Nick Bjugstad said.

Dallas (6-1-0), which has won five straight, looks to carry the momentum from a 4-0-0 road trip through the Eastern Conference back to home ice, where the Stars are 2-0-0.

"Well, I think our attention to playing away from the puck has been good the first two games (at home). We'd like to continue on that road where we're keeping the high-percentage chances down and we're playing the game real quick and then still attacking the other team," Ruff said.

Panthers center Aleksander Barkov is out after taking a puck to the hand against the Blackhawks. Bjugstad moves up from the second line to skate alongside left wing Jonathan Huberdeau and right wing Jaromir Jagr on Florida's top line.

Center Dave Bolland moves up from the third to the second line alongside left wing Brandon Pirri and right wing Reilly Smith. The fourth line likely consists of left wing Jussi Jokinen, center Derek MacKenzie and right wing Quinton Howden.

One change is center Vincent Trocheck dropping from the third to the fourth line, where he will center a line with left wing Shawn Thornton and right wing Connor Brickley after previously skating on the right side of the third line.

Panthers coach Gerard Gallant is keeping his defensive pairs intact but is giving goalie Al Montoya his second start of the season.

Montoya last started Oct. 13 at the Carolina Hurricanes with Roberto Luongo starting Florida's past four games.

"He's played one game and he played a great game in Carolina and it's time for him to get a game in again," Gallant said.

Ruff is keeping his forward lines intact in consecutive games for the second time this season, but is making changes to his defensive pairings with Jason Demers suspended two games for elbowing Pittsburgh Penguins center Nick Bonino on Thursday.

Dallas' top defensive pairing of Alex Goligoski and John Klingberg remains the same while the second pair consists of Johnny Oduya and Jordie Benn. The Stars third pairing is Jamie Oleksiak and Patrik Nemeth, who are each making their season debuts.

"It's going to be a challenge for them. It's an opportunity for them to make a statement and I want to see them play well," Ruff said of Oleksiak and Nemeth. "I think they both bring some different attributes and they know what they have to do to be effective for us and I want to see both players play to their strengths."

Here are the projected lineups:


Jonathan HuberdeauNick BjugstadJaromir Jagr

Brandon PirriDave BollandReilly Smith

Jussi JokinenDerek MacKenzieQuinton Howden

Shawn ThorntonVincent Trocheck - Connor Brickley

Brian CampbellAaron Ekblad

Willie MitchellErik Gudbranson

Dmitry KulikovAlex Petrovic

Al Montoya

Roberto Luongo

Injured: Aleksander Barkov (upper body), Marc Savard (post concussion syndrome).

Scratched: Steven Kampfer, Dylan Olsen.


Jamie BennTyler SeguinPatrick Sharp

Mattias JanmarkJason SpezzaValeri Nichushkin

Antoine RousselCody EakinAles Hemsky

Vernon FiddlerRadek Faksa - Colton Sceviour

Alex GoligoskiJohn Klingberg

Johnny OduyaJordie Benn

Jamie OleksiakPatrik Nemeth

Kari Lehtonen

Antti Niemi

Injured: Patrick Eaves (lower body), Curtis McKenzie (lower body), Travis Moen (upper body).

Scratched: Jyrki Jokipakka.

Suspended: Jason Demers.

Status report: Thornton returns on the fourth line after being a healthy scratch the past two games. … With Demers suspended, Jokipakka likely will be scratched so Nemeth and Oleksiak can make their season debuts. Jordie Benn, who was paired with Jokipakka in the third pairing, now moves up to the second pairing alongside Oduya to fill Demers' spot. … Lehtonen was first off the ice at morning skate and likely will start his fourth game of the season.

Who's hot: Jagr leads the Panthers with eight points (five goals) through seven games. … Dallas is 7-for-23 on the power play and 18-for-20 on the penalty kill this season.

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