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Preview: Panthers at Blues

Paul Stastny returns for St. Louis; Florida eyes sweep of five-game road trip

by Louie Korac / Correspondent

PANTHERS (27-20-10) at BLUES (31-23-5)

8 p.m. ET; NHLN, TVA Sports, SN, FS-MW, FS-F, NHL.TV

Panthers team scope

The Florida Panthers will attempt to sweep a five-game road trip for the first time in their history. The Panthers are one point behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference and can move ahead of the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division with a win. "I think probably the biggest thing is obviously getting guys back, but I think the main thing is probably simplifying our game," said defenseman Keith Yandle, who needs two points for 400 in his NHL career. "... We've kind of dumbed it down a little bit and playing simple, especially in our own zone. We've played well. When you go on the road, you have time to gel together." Goalie James Reimer will start. Reimer has won his past four decisions and is 5-0-1 in his past six. "He's played great," coach Tom Rowe said. "That's why we signed him is so when [Roberto Luongo] needed some time off, we have a quality guy to step in to carry the load or whatever may happen. That was the plan from the summer time on and [Reimer] has come in and done a great job."


Blues team scope

Center Paul Stastny will return to the lineup before the St. Louis Blues go on a five-day break. Stastny has missed the past four games with a lower-body injury. "I think we've sort of felt his lack of presence on the power play, I think we've felt it on the faceoff circle," coach Mike Yeo said. "He's obviously a guy that can help you contribute and help you create offense. He's also very solid defensively as far as the matchups, playing against top lines. ... We like the depth of our group and when he's in the lineup, we feel that we're strong enough to compete with teams like tonight that have a lot of depth in the team." The Blues had their six-game winning streak end with a 3-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday. "We've got one more here before the break, a big one for us," said left wing Alexander Steen, who will play his 800th NHL regular-season game. "We've got nothing to save it for. Just empty the tanks." The Blues lead the Nashville Predators by three points for third place in the Central Division.


Panthers projected lineup

Jonathan Huberdeau -- Aleksander Barkov -- Jaromir Jagr

Jussi Jokinen -- Vincent Trocheck -- Reilly Smith

Michael Sgarbossa -- Nick Bjugstad -- Jonathan Marchessault

Shawn Thornton -- Derek MacKenzie -- Colton Sceviour

Keith Yandle -- Aaron Ekblad

Mark Pysyk -- Alex Petrovic

Michael Matheson -- Jason Demers

James Reimer

Roberto Luongo

Scratched: Greg McKegg, Jakub Kindl

Injured: None


Blues projected lineup

Alexander Steen -- Paul Stastny -- Vladimir Tarasenko

Jaden Schwartz -- Patrik Berglund -- Magnus Paajarvi

Ivan Barbashev -- Jori Lehtera -- David Perron

Scottie Upshall -- Kyle Brodziak -- Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester -- Alex Pietrangelo

Robert Bortuzzo -- Kevin Shattenkirk

Joel Edmundson -- Colton Parayko

Jake Allen

Carter Hutton

Scratched: Nail Yakupov, Carl Gunnarsson, Dmitrij Jaskin

Injured: Robby Fabbri (knee)


Status report

Sgarbossa will replace McKegg after missing the past two games. ... Stastny will center the top line with Steen and Tarasenko, and allow Lehtera to move to third-line center and Barbashev to left wing for the first time. ... Paajarvi will move up to the second line after playing on the third line. ... Bortuzzo replaces Gunnarsson in the lineup. They have alternated the past six games.


Who's hot

Trocheck has seven points (two goals, five assists) during a five-game point streak and 19 points (10 goals, 13 assists) in his past 17 games. Barkov has five goals and three assists in six games since returning from injury. Huberdeau has eight points (four goals, four assists) in his first six games of the season. Jokinen has six points (four goals, two assists) in his past five games. ... Jagr has a five-game point streak (two goals, three assists). ... Shattenkirk has seven assists in his past seven games. Tarasenko has five goals and an assist in his past six games. Steen has 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in his past 15 games.

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