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Preview: Panthers at Flames

Florida seeking fourth win in five games; goalie Chad Johnson starts for Calgary

by Aaron Vickers / NHL.com Correspondent

PANTHERS (20-17-8) at FLAMES (23-20-3)

9 p.m. ET; SNW, FS-F, NHL.TV

 

Panthers team scope

Forward Greg McKegg will return to the lineup when the Florida Panthers open a four-game Western Conference road trip at the Calgary Flames. McKegg has missed the past four games because of an upper-body injury. "It's definitely nice to be back in," McKegg said. "Anytime you're out it's definitely a little frustrating, but now I'm healthy and hopefully I'll have a good one tonight." McKegg's return comes with Florida on an upswing. The Panthers have won three of their past four games overall and four in a row on the road. "I feel like we're just keeping it more simple," forward Jared McCann said. "We know that being at home is a huge advantage, but we're just trying to play simple hockey and it's working so far." The Panthers are two points behind the Philadelphia Flyers, who hold the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. They are tied with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators for third in the Atlantic Division at 48 points. However, Florida has played four more games than Toronto and Ottawa. "I think we just have to carry momentum," McKegg said. "We've won three of our last four. The team is playing well and everyone is chipping in. We've got to keep that rolling."

 

Flames team scope

Forward Micheal Ferland will be a game-time decision for Calgary. He has missed the past two games because of a lower-body injury sustained against the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday. "I'll see how he was after the skate and talk to our guys and talk to our docs and they'll make a decision," coach Glen Gulutzan said. "But he's very close, obviously. We'll make that decision with our group." Ferland has five goals, 11 points and a team-high 87 hits, in 44 games. "I think you always have that chance of injury just from playing that type of style," Ferland said. "There was no point to try and push it and play through it. It's good to take the time that I took and let it heal." Calgary is opening a three-game homestand with six games remaining before the NHL All-Star break. The Flames are 2-3-1 in the past six games, including back-to-back losses (0-1-1), but still holds the first wild card from the Western Conference. "Everybody knows where we are," goaltender Chad Johnson said. "I don't think guys are totally zoned in on that, because you just have to play as hard as you possibly can, as best you possibly can. For us, I think everyone's aware of where we are but it's not a main focal point."

 

Panthers projected lineup

Jared McCann -- Vincent Trocheck -- Jaromir Jagr

Jonathan Marchessault -- Jussi Jokinen -- Reilly Smith

Derek MacKenzie -- Michael Sgarbossa -- Colton Sceviour

Paul Thompson -- Greg McKegg -- Shawn Thornton

Keith Yandle -- Mark Pysyk

Michael Matheson -- Jason Demers

Jakub Kindl -- Aaron Ekblad

Roberto Luongo

James Reimer

Scratched : Dylan McIlrath, Seth Griffith, Denis Malgin

Injured : Aleksander Barkov (undisclosed), Jonathan Huberdeau (lower leg), Alex Petrovic (ankle), Nick Bjugstad (lower body)

 

Flames projected lineup

Kris Versteeg -- Sean Monahan -- Troy Brouwer

Johnny Gaudreau -- Sam Bennett -- Alex Chiasson

Matthew Tkachuk -- Mikael Backlund -- Michael Frolik

Lance Bouma -- Matt Stajan -- Micheal Ferland

Mark Giordano -- Dougie Hamilton

TJ Brodie -- Dennis Wideman

Jyrki Jokipakka -- Deryk Engelland

Chad Johnson

Brian Elliott

Scratched: Brett Kulak, Freddie Hamilton

Injured: Garnet Hathaway (upper body)

 

Status report

Florida recalled McIlrath from his conditioning assignment with Springfield of the American Hockey League on Monday. Freddie Hamilton will dress if Ferland isn't ready to return. … Johnson is making his fifth start in the past six games.

 

Who's hot

Trocheck has three goals and four assists during a four-game point streak. Yandle has four points (one goal, three assists) in his past four games. … Dougie Hamilton has one goal and three assists during a three-game point streak.

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