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MacKenzie back for Panthers against Hurricanes

Veteran center has been nursing minor leg injury

by Alain Poupart / NHL.com Correspondent

HURRICANES (35-30-16) at PANTHERS (46-26-9)

TV: 7 p.m. ET; FS-SE, SUN, NHL.TV

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Center Derek MacKenzie will be back in the lineup when the Atlantic Division champion Florida Panthers end the regular season against the Carolina Hurricanes at BB&T Center on Saturday.

MacKenzie was kept out of the lineup Thursday when the Panthers lost 3-1 to the Ottawa Senators after sustaining a minor leg injury while blocking a shot two nights earlier against the Montreal Canadiens.

Coach Gerard Gallant said MacKenzie, who missed eight games over the last two weeks of March after blocking a shot, could have played Thursday but was kept out as a precaution.

"The timing of it, had I played in Ottawa and missed this one, it would have been a week between games," MacKenzie said after the morning skate. "I think this one made a little bit more sense to get out there and get the feel for things and just get ready. That's the goal, really, is to get ready for (the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs)."

The Panthers, who will go into their finale with a record 101 points, will face either the New York Rangers or the New York Islanders in the Eastern Conference First Round.

Michael Matheson, the Panthers' first-round pick (No. 23) in the 2012 NHL Draft, will play after being recalled from Portland of the American Hockey League on an emergency basis. He will replace Steven Kampfer, who sustained a lower-body injury against Ottawa.

Gallant said Kampfer was a question mark for the start of the playoffs, but was confident that Erik Gudbranson would be back in the lineup. Gudbranson will miss his third game after he was injured against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday and sent home in the middle of a three-game road trip.

Matheson played his first two NHL games in late February after his first call-up from the AHL.

"Hopefully he comes out and plays as well as he played the last two games," Gallant said. "It's a good test tonight. Hopefully he won't be in our lineup on Wednesday or Thursday night, but we will see. Hopefully the injured guys are going to be back and we expect them back, but one game at a time."

Forward Brendan Woods will play for the Hurricanes after being recalled from Charlotte of the AHL on Friday. He will skate on the fourth line alongside Jay McClement and Ryan Murphy, who will move from his spot on defense to right wing.

Goalie Eddie Lack will start for Carolina against Roberto Luongo.

Carolina, which will miss the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season, has earned points in nine of its past 10 games (4-1-5) away from PNC Arena.

Here are the projected lineups:

HURRICANES

Joakim Nordstrom - Jordan Staal - Elias Lindholm

Jeff Skinner - Victor Rask - Chris Terry

Nathan Gerbe - Riley Nash - Brad Malone

Brendan Woods - Jay McClement - Ryan Murphy

Jaccob Slavin - Justin Faulk

Noah Hanifin - Brett Pesce

Ron Hainsey - Michal Jordan

Eddie Lack

Cam Ward

Injured: Derek Ryan (upper body), Phil Di Giuseppe (upper body), Andrej Nestrasil (upper body)

Scratched: None

PANTHERS

Jonathan Huberdeau - Aleksander Barkov - Jaromir Jagr

Jussi Jokinen - Nick Bjugstad - Reilly Smith

Jiri Hudler - Rocco Grimaldi - Teddy Purcell

Garrett Wilson - Derek MacKenzie - Shawn Thornton

Brian Campbell - Aaron Ekblad

Jakub Kindl - Dmitry Kulikov

Michael Matheson - Alex Petrovic

Roberto Luongo

Al Montoya

Injured: Vincent Trocheck (foot), Dave Bolland (lower body), Willie Mitchell (concussion), Erik Gudbranson (upper body), Steven Kampfer (lower body)

Scratched: Quinton Howden, Greg McKegg

Status report: Carolina reassigned forward Patrick Brown to Charlotte on Friday. … With Murphy playing right wing, Jordan will be in the lineup on defense after he was a healthy scratch the past four games. … Wilson will play for Florida after being a healthy scratch four of the past five games.

Who's hot: Carolina has killed off 88.8 percent of its penalties since Jan. 1, the second-highest success rate in the League. … Skinner has three goals and four assists in his past eight games. … Barkov comes in with a career-high eight-game point streak (five goals, seven assists). … Huberdeau has six goals and four assists in his past eight games. … Hudler has 12 points in nine career games against Carolina.

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