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Panthers aim for franchise-record 44th victory

Right wing Gallagher set to return for Canadiens

by Sean Farrell / Correspondent

CANADIENS (36-36-6) at PANTHERS (43-25-9)

TV: 7 p.m. ET; TVA Sports, SN, FS-F, NHL.TV

The Florida Panthers can clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Montreal Canadiens at BB&T Center on Saturday with some outside help.

Florida will secure its second playoff berth in five seasons with a win against Montreal if the Detroit Red Wings lose at the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Panthers, who can set a team record for wins in a season, would clinch their fifth playoff berth with an overtime or shootout loss to the Canadiens if the Red Wings lose to Toronto in regulation.

"Close is close; you're still not in," Florida coach Gerard Gallant said after the morning skate in a video on the Panthers website. "You've got to win your hockey games and take care of your own business and make sure we play well. So tonight's a big game for us and we've got to make sure we're ready to play because Montreal plays us real good."

Florida is in first place in the Atlantic Division with 95 points, two ahead of the second-place Tampa Bay Lightning. Each has five games remaining. Boston, which is in third place with 90 points, has four games left.

Right wings Brendan Gallagher and Daniel Carr return to the Canadiens lineup, and defenseman Brent Lernout will make his NHL debut.

Gallagher, who missed the past 12 games, will play with center Alex Galchenyuk and left wing Max Pacioretty for the first time since March 5 when Gallagher sustained a lower-body injury during their first game as linemates.

Carr has been out with a knee injury since Jan. 25. Lernout was recalled from St. John's of the American Hockey League after defenseman Nathan Beaulieu broke his right thumb Thursday.

Here are the projected lineups:


Max Pacioretty - Alex Galchenyuk - Brendan Gallagher

Lars Eller - Tomas Plekanec - Torrey Mitchell

Paul Byron - David Desharnais - Sven Andrighetto

Phillip Danault - - Michael McCarron - Daniel Carr

Andrei Markov - Alexei Emelin  

Joel Hanley - Greg Pateryn

Brent Lernout - Darren Dietz

Mike Condon

Charlie Lindgren

Injured: P.K. Subban (neck), Carey Price (lower body), Nathan Beaulieu (broken thumb), Mark Barberio (concussion-like symptoms), Jeff Petry (sports hernia), Brian Flynn (lower body), Tom Gilbert (knee), Lucas Lessio (knee), Victor Bartley (lower body), Jacob De La Rose (undisclosed).

Scratched: Stefan Matteau, Mike Brown.


Jonathan Huberdeau - Aleksander Barkov - Jaromir Jagr

Jussi Jokinen - Nick Bjugstad - Reilly Smith

Jiri Hudler - Rocco Grimaldi - Teddy Purcell

Quinton Howden - Derek MacKenzie - Shawn Thornton

Brian Campbell - Aaron Ekblad

Dmitry Kulikov - Erik Gudbranson

Jakub Kindl - Steven Kampfer

Roberto Luongo

Al Montoya

Injured: Vincent Trocheck (foot), Dave Bolland (lower body), Willie Mitchell (concussion)

Scratched: Garrett Wilson, Greg McKegg, Alex Petrovic

Status report: Lernout and Lindgren, who will back up Condon, were the only players who will dress Saturday to take to the ice for Montreal's optional morning skate. Subban, who will miss his 11th straight game, Price, Flynn, Brown and Matteau were the others.

Who's hot: Huberdeau has scored in four straight games and Jagr has assists in four straight games. Huberdeau has five goals and one assist during his streak; Jagr has one goal and five assists during his streak. Barkov has a goal and four assists in his past four games. Angrighetto has a goal and three assists during a three-game point streak. Emelin has three assists in two games.

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