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At The Rink

Panthers, seeking sixth straight win, host Penguins

Florida defenseman Brent Regner will make his NHL debut

by Alain Poupart / Correspondent

PENGUINS (25-18-7) at PANTHERS (31-15-5)


SUNRISE, Fla. -- Defenseman Brent Regner will make his NHL debut for the Florida Panthers against the Pittsburgh Penguins at BB&T Center on Saturday.

Regner, 26, was recalled Friday from Portland of the American Hockey League.

A fifth-round pick (137th overall) of the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2008 NHL Draft, Regner has played 431 games in the AHL. He has 12 points in 43 games this season for Portland.

"He just played really well down there, obviously," Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said. "It's a good opportunity. I'm looking forward to seeing him play."

Regner missed the morning skate Saturday because his flight out of Maine on Friday night was canceled, but he was expected to join the Panthers in the afternoon.

Regner was recalled because defenseman Erik Gudbranson is out with an upper-body injury. Defenseman and captain Willie Mitchell will miss his sixth consecutive game because of a lower-body injury.

The Panthers are riding a five-game winning streak with all the victories by three goals or more. Florida could become the first team since the 1997-98 Dallas Stars to do it six consecutive times.

The Panthers have scored five goals or more in each of the past four games.

"I hope it keeps up," Gallant said. "It's been fun. We're scoring goals and we're getting some opportunities. But the NHL is so tight. The last five games have gone real well for us offensively, but that's not going to happen all the time. I'd like to see us tighten up a little bit defensively. We're giving up a little too much lately, but overall we're scoring goals and we're playing well."

The Panthers, who are 17-3-1 in their past 21 games and 23-6-1 in their past 30, have a five-point lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning atop the Atlantic Division.

The Penguins had a four-game winning streak ended Friday with a 6-3 loss at Tampa Bay. Forward Sidney Crosby extended the longest active point streak in the NHL to nine games with a goal. He has nine goals and six assists during that stretch.

Marc-Andre Fleury was pulled midway through the second period after giving up four goals on 14 shots in his first regulation loss since Jan. 6.

Evgeni Malkin did not accompany the Penguins for their two-game trip to Florida because of a lower-body injury. The Penguins also are without forward Eric Fehr, who is expected to miss at least a month with a lower-body injury.

"I think they're still a high-powered team," Panthers defenseman Steven Kampfer said. "(Malkin is) a guy that's going to be missed for them, but they have guys that can fill in, that can score up and down their lineup. They've still a lot of guys that can play and we've got to be ready to go all night."

The Penguins did not have a morning skate Saturday.

Here are the projected lines:


Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist  

Carl Hagelin - Matt Cullen - Phil Kessel

Tom Kuhnhackl - Oskar Sundqvist - Bryan Rust  

Conor Sheary - Kevin Porter - Scott Wilson  

Olli Maatta - Kris Letang  

Brian Dumoulin - Trevor Daley

Ben Lovejoy - Derrick Pouliot  

Marc-Andre Fleury

Jeff Zatkoff  

Injured: Beau Bennett (upper body), Nick Bonino (hand), David Warsofsky (concussion), Evgeni Malkin (lower body), Eric Fehr (lower body)

Scratched: Sergei Plotnikov, Ian Cole  


Jonathan Huberdeau - Aleksander Barkov - Jaromir Jagr  

Jussi Jokinen - Vincent Trocheck - Reilly Smith  

Brandon Pirri - Nick Bjugstad - Logan Shaw

Quinton Howden - Derek MacKenzie - Shawn Thornton

Brian Campbell - Alex Petrovic

Dmitry Kulikov - Aaron Ekblad  

Steven Kampfer - Brent Regner

Roberto Luongo

Al Montoya

Injured: Erik Gudbranson (upper body), Willie Mitchell (lower body), Dave Bolland (lower body)

Scratched: Corban Knight

Status report: Gallant said Gudbranson's injury was a lingering issue, but wasn't believed to be serious. ... Mitchell is not expected to accompany the Panthers for their two-game road trip against the Detroit Red Wings and Buffalo Sabres on Monday and Tuesday. ... Fleury's expected start would make it three times this season he has started both ends of a back-to-back set.

Who's hot: Kessel has three goals and three assists during a five-game point streak. ... Trocheck has a four-game goal streak that has helped him take over as Florida's leading goal scorer with 17, one more than Smith and Jagr. ... Smith has a six-game point streak (four goals, four assists), the longest of the season for the Panthers. ... Barkov (three goals, three assists) and Jokinen (one goal, six assists) each have five-game point streaks. ... Florida scored two power-play goals in each of its past three games and is 7-for-17 with the man advantage in the past four games.

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