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Preview: Bruins at Panthers

Forward David Backes to return for Boston; goaltender James Reimer will start for Florida in place of injured Roberto Luongo

by Alain Poupart / Correspondent

BRUINS (20-17-4) at PANTHERS (17-15-8)

7 p.m. ET; NESN, FS-F, NHL.TV


Bruins team scope

Forward David Backes is expected to return to the Boston Bruins lineup after missing the past three games with a concussion. Coach Claude Julien said Backes wouldn't be allowed to play until he felt 100 percent, but the veteran said after the morning skate he was ready to go for the Bruins, who are 5-7-3 in their past 15 games. "After a couple of days not doing anything, you need to get that [intensity] back into my head and be able to pick up the high rate," Backes said. "Yesterday, full practice and today to be out there and feeling good again, it's nice to feel back to normal and hopefully back in action and be in the swing and the routine of NHL hockey." Defenseman John-Michael Liles also said he's ready to return from a concussion. He remains on injured reserve and has missed the past 19 games. Goaltender Tuukka Rask is expected to start. He is 18-3-1 with a 1.53 goals-against average and a .949 save percentage in 22 career games against the Florida Panthers. Rask has allowed five goals in three games against Florida this season, all Boston victories. The Bruins lead the Panthers by two points in the Eastern Conference standings, with Florida holding a game in hand.


Panthers team scope

Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo, who has come up short in his first four attempts for a 448th career victory that would move him past Terry Sawchuk for sole possession of fifth place on the NHL's all-time list, is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. He was scratched from his scheduled start against the Nashville Predators on Friday after being injured during pregame warmups, and was ruled out after the first period of the Panthers' 2-1 win. James Reimer, who made 28 saves against the Predators, will start in the second half of a back-to-back. Florida recalled goaltender Sam Brittain from Manchester of the ECHL on Saturday. Center Nick Bjugstad, who left the game against the Panthers in the first period with a lower-body injury, was placed on injured reserve. Bjugstad, who missed the first four games of the season with a wrist injury, has one goal and one assist in 21 games. The Panthers, 9-7-3 at home this season, did not hold a morning skate. Florida is 3-1-3 in the second game of back-to-backs.


Bruins projected lineup

Brad Marchand -- Patrice Bergeron -- David Pastrnak

Ryan Spooner -- David Krejci -- David Backes

Frank Vatrano -- Austin Czarnik -- Jimmy Hayes

Tim Schaller -- Dominic Moore -- Riley Nash

Zdeno Chara -- Brandon Carlo

Torey Krug -- Adam McQuaid

Kevan Miller -- Colin Miller

Tuukka Rask

Zane McIntyre

Scratched: Anton Blidh , Joe Morrow

Injured: John-Michael Liles (concussion), Matt Beleskey  (knee)


Panthers projected lineup

Jaromir Jagr - Vincent Trocheck - Jonathan Marchessault

Jussi Jokinen - Jared McCann - Reilly Smith

Greg McKegg - Michael Sgarbossa - Colton Sceviour

Paul Thompson - Derek MacKenzie - Shawn Thornton

Keith Yandle - Jason Demers

Michael Matheson - Aaron Ekblad

Jakub Kindl - Mark Pysyk

James Reimer

Sam Brittain

Scratched: Denis Malgin, Dylan McIlrath

Injured:  Aleksander Barkov (undisclosed) Jonathan Huberdeau (lower leg), Alex Petrovic (ankle), Seth Griffith (upper body), Nick Bjugstad (lower body), Roberto Luongo (upper body)


Status report

McIntyre was recalled Friday from Providence of the American Hockey League. He's 10-0-0 with a 1.41 goals-against average and .951 save percentage in the AHL this season. … Forward Noel Acciari was assigned to Providence on Friday. … Thornton is expected back in the lineup to face his former team after being a healthy scratch Friday.


Who's hot

Jagr, who passed Mark Messier for second place on the NHL's all-time point list when he had an assist during the Bruins' last visit to BB&T Center on Dec. 22, has nine points (one goal, eight assists) in his past eight games. … Trocheck has six points (three goals, three assists) in his past five games. … Krug has eight assists in his past seven games. … Spooner has seven points (three goals, four assists) in his past seven games. … Krejci has six points (three goals, three assists) in his past six games. … Reimer has allowed one goal in three of his past five starts. … McKegg has a goal in each of the past two games.

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