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Canucks set for rare meeting with Panthers

by Eric Goodman
CANUCKS (26-13-3) at PANTHERS (20-13-8)


Last 10: Vancouver 7-2-1; Florida 4-4-2.

Season series: This is the lone meeting of the season between these cross-conference clubs. The Canucks have won the last three games against the Panthers. Vancouver is also 8-0-1 with two ties at Sunrise, Fla. since its last loss there on Oct. 20, 1999.

Big Story: Canucks' goalie Roberto Luongo sat out Saturday's game against the Boston Bruins, but the veteran netminder is poised to play in front of his former home crowd Monday. Luongo spent five seasons with the Panthers and remains the franchise leader in career wins (108) and shutouts (26).

Team Scope:

Canucks: Vancouver began its four-game road trip on the right foot Saturday with a solid 4-3 victory over the Boston Bruins in a rematch of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. The Canucks scored all their goals with the man advantage to improve their League-leading power-play percentage to 24.4.

Backup goalie Cory Schneider was between the pipes Saturday as Luongo has struggled notoriously against the Bruins. But the young American goalie left the Canucks in good hands as he made 36 saves to earn his second straight win in as many starts.

"I think it makes a statement to the rest of the League that we're back and we're looking forward to getting back to where we were," Schneider said after the game.

Panthers: With losses in six of its last eight games, Florida needs to kick it up a notch if it hopes to protect its first place standing in the Southeast Division. An improvement over Friday's 5-2 loss at New Jersey is needed if the Panthers hope to compete against a Canucks team that they have struggled against recently.

The Cats skated stride for stride with the Devils, but fell apart in the third period as New Jersey tallied three unanswered goals, including an even-strength and shorthanded tally from Ilya Kovalchuk.

"Every time you play a back-to-back, it's tough, but you have to find a way to fight through it," said forward Krys Barch, who scored a goal on Friday. "There's no excuse for letting this one get away late."

Who's Hot: Luongo is 3-0-1 with a 1.68 goals-against average vs. Florida since he joined the Canucks to start the 2006-07 season. He is also 10-2-2 with a 1.76 GAA and two shutouts in 14 starts since returning from injury in early December....For the Panthers, Brian Campbell is in the midst of a three-game assist streak. The veteran defenseman has tallied 6 assists in his last five games.

Injury Report: Canucks coach Alain Vigneault confirmed Sunday that defenseman Sami Salo will sit with an apparent concussion after he took a low hit from Boston's Brad Marchand on Saturday. Marchand has a disciplinary hearing Monday for the clipping penalty. The Canucks recalled forward Mike Duco from the AHL's Chicago Wolves on Sunday. Forward Andrew Ebbett broke his collarbone following a Dennis Seidenberg hit on Saturday and is out indefinitely. Forward David Booth (knee) has been medically cleared to return to game action, while defenseman Aaron Rome (hand) remains on injured reserve for Vancouver. ... Goalie Jose Theodore (knee) is expected to be sidelined the next few weeks for Florida. The Panthers also have four other players on IR: Scottie Upshall (upper body), Jack Skille (shoulder), Sean Bergenheim (lower body) and Marco Sturm (head).
Stat Pack: Although Florida has turned it around this season, it currently owns the NHL's longest stretch without a post-season appearance, having last made the playoffs in 2000.

Puck Drop: While the Panthers have hit a bit of a rough patch recently, their veteran players know the importance of quickly getting back on track.

"Every point is so vital now. We can't be giving games away like that in the third period," defenseman Mike Weaver said following the Panthers loss to the Devils on Friday.

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