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Preview: Panthers at Canadiens

Montreal can clinch playoff berth; Reto Berra starts for Florida

by Sean Farrell / Correspondent

PANTHERS (33-32-11) at CANADIENS (43-24-9)

7:30 p.m. ET; SNE, RDS, FS-F, NHL.TV


Panthers team scope

The Florida Panthers are nine points out of the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference with six games remaining. Goalie Reto Berra will start with James Reimer sidelined because of an upper-body injury. Berra replaced Reimer in the second period and made 10 saves in 27:37 during a 3-2 loss at the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday. Adam Wilcox was recalled from Springfield of the American Hockey League on an emergency basis. He took part in the morning skate at Bell Centre and will back up Berra. With 29 goals, right wing Jonathan Marchessault is closing in on the 30-goal mark. "We had him pegged as a 20-goal scorer for sure, you know, given the opportunity that we knew he was going to get," coach Tom Rowe said. "But the fact that he's going to get 30 at some point before the season's over is pretty impressive. And he's a good kid. I know coaching against him in the American Hockey League when I was down there he was always a guy that showed up every single day, competed his heart out and got everything he deserved just because of his effort and how he went to the net."


Canadiens team scope

The Canadiens have several ways to clinch a playoff berth Thursday after missing the postseason last year, the most straightforward is a win in regulation or overtime against the Panthers. Montreal, which leads the Ottawa Senators by four points for first place in the Atlantic Division with six games remaining, can also clinch with a shootout win if the Tampa Bay Lightning lose to the Detroit Red Wings or defeat the Red Wings in a shootout, or if the Boston Bruins lose to the Dallas Stars. If Montreal loses to Florida in overtime or a shootout, it can clinch if the New York Islanders lose to the Philadelphia Flyers, or if the Islanders defeat Philadelphia in a shootout and either Tampa Bay loses to Detroit in any fashion or Boston loses to Dallas in regulation. The Canadiens can even clinch if they lose to Florida in regulation, but only if Tampa Bay loses to Detroit in regulation and the Islanders lose to the Flyers and the Carolina Hurricanes lose to the Columbus Blue Jackets.


Panthers projected lineup

Jonathan Huberdeau -- Aleksander Barkov -- Jaromir Jagr

Jussi Jokinen -- Vincent Trocheck -- Reilly Smith

Thomas Vanek -- Nick Bjugstad -- Jonathan Marchessault

Shawn Thornton -- Derek MacKenzie -- Colton Sceviour

Keith Yandle -- Jason Demers

Michael Matheson -- Alex Petrovic

Mark Pysyk -- Jakub Kindl

Reto Berra

Adam Wilcox

Scratched: Michael Sgarbossa

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


Canadiens projected lineup

Max Pacioretty -- Phillip Danault -- Alexander Radulov

Paul Byron -- Tomas Plekanec -- Brendan Gallagher

Alex Galchenyuk -- Andrew Shaw -- Artturi Lehkonen

Dwight King -- Steve Ott -- Andreas Martinsen

Andrei Markov -- Shea Weber

Alexei Emelin -- Jeff Petry

Nathan Beaulieu -- Brandon Davidson

Carey Price

Charlie Lindgren

Scratched: Michael McCarron, Brian Flynn, Nikita Nesterov, Torrey Mitchell

Injured: Al Montoya (lower body), Jordie Benn (undisclosed)


Status report

Luongo was on the ice for the morning skate. ... Lindgren was recalled from St. John's of the AHL on Wednesday and will back up Price. Zach Fucale, who backed up Price on Tuesday after he was recalled from Brampton of the ECHL on an emergency basis, was assigned to St. John's. ... Julien called Montoya's injury minor after practice Wednesday and said that he is day to day.


Who's hot

Barkov has 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in his past 11 games. … Huberdeau has seven points (two goals, five assists) in his past four games. … Marchessault has six goals in his past four games, and 11 points (10 goals, one assist) in his past 11 games. ... Lehkonen has four points (two goals, two assists) during a four-game point streak. … Pacioretty has three points (one goal, two assists) in his past two games. … Markov has four points (two goals, two assists) in his past two games.

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