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Florida 3-7-1 in past 11 games; Kuemper returns for Arizona

by Alan Robinson / Independent Correspondent

PANTHERS (32-24-6) at COYOTES (31-26-8)



The Game

Darcy Kuemper will start for the Arizona Coyotes against the Florida Panthers at Gila River Arena on Tuesday.

The goalie (15-8-2 with a 2.17 goals-against average and .929 save percentage) has been out with a lower-body injury since Dec. 19.

Arizona is 4-3-1 in its past eight games after going 1-5-2 in its previous eight. The Coyotes and Calgary Flames lead the Winnipeg Jets by one point for the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.

Forwards Erik Haula and Lucas Wallmark will make their Panthers debuts after they were traded by the Carolina Hurricanes for forward Vincent Trocheck on Monday.

The Panthers are 3-7-1 in their past 11 games after going 7-1-0 in their previous eight. They trail the New York Islanders and Columbus Blue Jackets by six points for the first wild card from the East.


Players to watch

Panthers center Aleksander Barkov has five points (three goals, two assists) during a four-game point streak. He's scored five goals in 10 games against Arizona.

Coyotes forward Conor Garland had an NHL career-high four points (two goals, two assists) in a 7-3 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. He has 14 points (eight goals, six assists) in a nine-game home point streak.


They said it

"We're right there. We can play well. Hopefully we string some games together here and put ourselves in a good situation. It's one of those things where you've just got to be excited in the fight, be willing and ready to go." -- Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle

"He's been our best our best player for the last year, year and a half. Now we got our best player back. Goaltending hasn't been our problem, but this just strengthens our goaltending." -- Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet on Darcy Kuemper


Panthers projected lineup

Jonathan Huberdeau -- Aleksander Barkov -- Evgenii Dadonov

Frank Vatrano -- Erik Haula -- Mike Hoffman

Lucas Wallmark -- Brett Connolly -- Aleksi Saarela

Colton Sceviour -- Noel Acciari -- Mark Pysyk

MacKenzie Weegar -- Aaron Ekblad

Keith Yandle -- Josh Brown

Riley Stillman -- Anton Stralman

Sergei Bobrovsky

Sam Montembeault

Scratched: Dominic Toninato

Injured: Dryden Hunt (lower body), Chris Driedger (groin), Mike Matheson (illness), Brian Boyle (upper body)


Coyotes projected lineup

Taylor Hall -- Christian Dvorak -- Nick Schmaltz

Lawson Crouse -- Derek Stepan -- Clayton Keller

Conor Garland -- Barrett Hayton -- Phil Kessel

Carl Soderberg -- Brad Richardson -- Vinnie Hinostroza

Oliver Ekman-Larsson -- Ilya Lyubushkin

Jordan Oesterle -- Niklas Hjalmarsson

Aaron Ness -- Alex Goligoski

Darcy Kuemper

Antti Raanta

Scratched: Christian Fischer, Michael Grabner

Injured: Jakob Chychrun (lower body), Jason Demers (lower body)


Status report

Hunt, a forward, will be out multiple weeks, according to coach Joel Quenneville. … Boyle, a forward, has resumed skating. … Driedger, a goalie, is close to returning. … Chychrun, a defenseman, could return against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday. … Demers, a defenseman, is week to week.


Stat pack

Hoffman has five points (three goals, two assists) during a four-game point streak. … Kuemper is 2-2-0 with a 2.55 GAA and .918 save percentage in five games against Florida.

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