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Preview: Panthers at Bruins

Boston looks to gain ground in division, wild-card races; center Aleksander Barkov out for Florida

by Matt Kalman / NHL.com Correspondent

PANTHERS (33-33-11) at BRUINS (41-30-6)

1 p.m. ET; SN, NESN, FS-F, NHL.TV

 

Panthers team scope

Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov will miss his second straight game with an upper-body injury. Coach Tom Rowe had no other update on Barkov, the Panthers' second-leading scorer with 52 points (21 goals, 31 assists). Goaltender Reto Berra will start for the second straight game because of injuries to James Reimer (upper body) and Roberto Luongo (lower body). Berra, who made 27 saves on 33 shots in a 6-2 loss at the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday, is 0-3-0 with an .874 save percentage and 3.38 goals-against average. "I thought once he got his feet under him in Montreal like the rest of the team, he was fine," Rowe said. "But we just talked about playing the right way, adjusting a few things that we did [Thursday] night wrong and be ready for Boston." The Panthers are 5-13-1 in their past 19 games and were eliminated from contention for the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Thursday. Forward Shawn Thornton, who played 480 games for the Boston Bruins from 2007-14 and won the Stanley Cup with them in 2011, will play his last game in Boston; he is retiring after the season. "We've got to have fun. We have nothing to lose," Thornton said. "I've played on the other side playing against teams that were out of it and had nothing to lose, and I think we have to be a loose bunch that plays the right way."

 

Bruins team scope

Boston trails the Toronto Maple Leafs by one point for third place in the Atlantic Division and leads the Tampa Bay Lightning by three points for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference. Toronto and Tampa Bay each have one game in hand on Boston. The Maple Leafs play at the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday; the Lightning host the Montreal Canadiens. The Bruins will try to win their fourth straight following a four-game losing streak, and have defeated the Panthers in all four games this season. "I don't think we should be there," coach Bruce Cassidy said about the risk of taking Florida lightly. "Obviously if we had clinched and were set, then you guard against that. We just lived it [Thursday] night [in a 2-0 win against the Dallas Stars] where we got in front and maybe thought, 'Well, they won't have their push.' And they pushed. Florida will be the same way. Sometimes it's a dangerous opponent, especially them, they've got some firepower coming in here with nothing to lose." Tuukka Rask, who has allowed one goal in his past two games, will start for the third straight game. Rask is 35-20-4 with a .912 save percentage and 2.31 GAA. Forward Frank Vatrano (upper body) will miss his second straight game.

 

Panthers projected lineup

Jonathan Huberdeau -- Denis Malgin -- Jaromir Jagr

Thomas Vanek -- Nick Bjugstad -- Jonathan Marchessault

Jussi Jokinen -- Vincent Trocheck -- Reilly Smith

Colton Sceviour -- Derek MacKenzie -- Shawn Thornton

Keith Yandle -- Jason Demers

Michael Matheson -- Alex Petrovic

Mark Pysyk -- Jakub Kindl

Reto Berra

Adam Wilcox

Scratched: Michael Sgarbossa

Injured: James Reimer (upper body), Roberto Luongo (lower body), Aaron Ekblad (neck)

 

Bruins projected lineup

Brad Marchand -- Patrice Bergeron -- David Backes

Drew Stafford -- David Krejci -- David Pastrnak

Matt Beleskey -- Ryan Spooner -- Jimmy Hayes

Dominic Moore -- Riley Nash -- Noel Acciari

Zdeno Chara -- Brandon Carlo

Torey Krug -- Adam McQuaid

John-Michael Liles -- Kevan Miller

Tuukka Rask

Anton Khudobin

Scratched: Joe Morrow, Colin Miller

Injured: Frank Vatrano (upper body), Tim Schaller (lower body)

 

Status report

Chara and Krejci did not practice Friday but are expected to play. Cassidy said Vatrano and Schaller would remain out when the Bruins play at the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday.

 

Who's hot

Huberdeau has seven points (two goals, five assists) in his past five games. ... Marchessault has six goals in his past five games. ... Marchand has 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in his past nine games and 24 points (13 goals, 11 assists) in his past 17 games. … Pastrnak has 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists) in his past 17 games.

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