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Panthers go for division title without Gudbranson

Florida defenseman out with undisclosed injury; Scott to make Montreal debut

by Sean Farrell / Correspondent

PANTHERS (45-25-9) at CANADIENS (36-37-6)

TV: 7 p.m. ET; TVA Sports, SN, FS-F, NHL.TV

BROSSARD, Quebec -- Defenseman Erik Gudbranson will not be in the Florida Panthers lineup when they play the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre on Tuesday with an opportunity to clinch the Atlantic Division title.

The Panthers can win the division if they defeat the Canadiens and the Tampa Bay Lightning lose to the New York Rangers. Florida also can win the division if it gets one point against the Canadiens, and the Lightning lose to the Rangers in regulation.

Gudbranson was injured on a hit by Toronto Maple Leafs forward Colin Greening during a 4-3 win in Toronto on Monday.

Florida coach Gerard Gallant said defenseman Alex Petrovic will replace Gudbranson in the lineup, but did not say if Gudbranson had gone back to Florida.

"I guess so, somebody said that," Gallant said. "I didn't know. I don't know what it is. I'm [upset] about it right now. He's injured, that's all I'm saying."

The Panthers, who nearly blew a 3-0 lead against the Maple Leafs, secured home-ice advantage in the Eastern Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Monday. The victory gave them 99 points, a single-season Panthers record. Their previous high was 98 points in 1999-2000.

Florida extended its division lead to four points over second-place Tampa Bay, which lost 5-2 at the New York Islanders. The Panthers and the Lightning each have three games remaining.

"[Monday] night we reached another goal with getting home ice in the first round and now our goal for the next three games is to try and get first place in the division," Gallant said.

Right wing Jaromir Jagr was one of seven Florida players on the ice for an optional morning skate at Bell Centre in Montreal.

Forward John Scott will make his Montreal debut in what could be his last NHL game.

"I never think about that," Scott said after the morning skate at the Canadiens practice facility here. "If you think about those things you're not going to play well, so I kind of just block that stuff out. And if it is my last game, so be it. Like I've said a million times, it could be worse. And good way to go out with the Canadiens, I guess."

Scott and defenseman Ryan Johnston, who will make his NHL debut, were recalled from St. John's of the AHL on Sunday.

Scott was assigned to St. John's after the Canadiens acquired him from the Arizona Coyotes in a Jan. 15 trade, though he played in the 2016 Honda NHL All-Star Game in Nashville and won Most Valuable Player after being voted captain of the Pacific Division team.

"You can see he's excited," Canadiens right wing Brendan Gallagher said. "You know, with the year he's had, I think this will cap it off nicely for him. So hopefully he can go out there and just do what he does, go out there and have fun, play physical and use his size. And he's up here for a reason, so he's going to contribute and we're just excited to watch."

Johnston will be the 15th defenseman to play for Montreal this season.

Here are the projected lineups:


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

Dmitry Kulikov - Alex Petrovic

Jakub Kindl - Steven Kampfer

Roberto Luongo

Al Montoya

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

Scratched: Greg McKegg, Quinton Howden


Max Pacioretty - Alex Galchenyuk - Brendan Gallagher

Lars Eller - Tomas Plekanec - Daniel Carr

Phillip Danault - David Desharnais - Sven Andrighetto

Paul Byron - Torrey Mitchell - John Scott

Andrei Markov - Greg Pateryn

Alexei Emelin - Ryan Johnston

Joel Hanley - Darren Dietz

Mike Condon

Charlie Lindgren

Injured: P.K. Subban (neck), Carey Price (lower body), Nathan Beaulieu (broken thumb), Mark Barberio (concussion), Jeff Petry (sports hernia), Brian Flynn (lower body), Tom Gilbert (knee), Lucas Lessio (knee), Victor Bartley (lower body), Brett Lernout (lower body)

Scratched: Stefan Matteau, Mike Brown

Status report: Gallant said Thornton would play in place of Howden, and McKegg might play. "It just depends on one other guy, we'll check him out," Gallant said. … Price practiced with the Canadiens on Tuesday. … Canadiens coach Michel Therrien has said Lindgren will start one of the two remaining games.

Who's hot: Huberdeau has six goals and three assists during a six-game point streak. … Barkov has a goal in three straight games and four goals and six assists during a six-game point streak. … Ekblad has five assists in his past three games. … Mitchell has two goals and one assist in his past two games. … Desharnais has a goal in two straight games.

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