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Panthers at Sharks preview

San Jose center Thornton to play after missing two days of practice; Florida coach Boughner faces former team for first time

by Eric Gilmore / Correspondent

PANTHERS (6-9-2) AT SHARKS (10-6-0)

10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSCA, FS-F, NHL.TV


The Game

The San Jose Sharks will try for their seventh win in eight games when they play the Florida Panthers at SAP Center on Thursday.

Sharks center Joe Thornton, who missed practice Tuesday and Wednesday, took part in the morning skate and will center the top line with Joe Pavelski and Joonas Donskoi. Thornton and Pavelski were split up for the first time in two-plus seasons under coach Peter DeBoer on Sunday in a 2-1 victory against the Los Angeles Kings. They skated on different lines for the first two periods but were reunited in the third.

Florida coach Bob Boughner, who spent the previous two seasons as an assistant under DeBoer, will face his former team for the first time in the opener of a three-game California trip. Forward Jonathan Huberdeau missed the morning skate but is likely to play. He took a big hit in a 4-3 shootout win against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday and missed most of the second period.


Players to watch

Panthers forward Micheal Haley, who played 78 games and had 187 penalty minutes for San Jose during the previous three seasons, will face the Sharks for the first time since signing with Florida as a free agent on July 1.

Defenseman Brent Burns leads the Sharks with 65 shots but has no goals through 16 games.


They said it

"I owe Pete a lot. I learned a lot from Pete. He gave me my chance, and he was a big reason why I'm standing here." -- Panthers coach Bob Boughner, a former Sharks assistant, on San Jose coach Peter DeBoer

"We're playing a structured game right now. We're getting a lot of contributions up and down the lineup, which is huge. When we get rolling, that's what we do." -- Sharks captain Joe Pavelski


Panthers projected lineup

Jonathan Huberdeau -- Aleksander Barkov -- Evgenii Dadonov

Dryden Hunt -- Vincent Trocheck -- Radim Vrbata

Jamie McGinn -- Nick Bjugstad -- Colton Sceviour

Micheal Haley -- Chase Balisy -- Connor Brickley

Keith Yandle -- Aaron Ekblad

Mike Matheson -- Mark Pysyk

Ian McCoshen -- MacKenzie Weegar

Roberto Luongo

James Reimer

Scratched: Alex Petrovic, Curtis Valk

Injured: Jared McCann (lower body), Derek MacKenzie (lower body)


Sharks projected lineup

Joonas Donskoi -- Joe Thornton -- Joe Pavelski

Melker Karlsson -- Logan Couture -- Tomas Hertl

Kevin Labanc -- Chris Tierney -- Mikkel Boedker

Timo Meier -- Barclay Goodrow -- Joel Ward

Marc-Edouard Vlasic -- Justin Braun

Joakim Ryan -- Brent Burns

Brenden Dillon -- Tim Heed

Martin Jones

Aaron Dell

Scratched: Ryan Carpenter, Dylan DeMelo, Jannik Hansen

Injured: Paul Martin (ankle)


Status report

Balisy, who was recalled Wednesday from Springfield of the American Hockey League, is expected to center the fourth line, replacing Valk. ... Martin will miss his 14th straight game.


Stat pack

Barkov has nine points (three goals, six assists) in his past seven games. … Thornton has 1,015 career assists. He's one shy of tying Joe Sakic for 12th place on the NHL's all-time list.

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