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Luongo starts for Panthers against Hurricanes

by John Kreiser

PANTHERS (16-12-4) at HURRICANES (12-14-5)


RALEIGH, N.C. -- Roberto Luongo will start in goal for the Florida Panthers as they seek their third straight win against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena on Friday.

The Panthers relied on a 25-save performance from Al Montoya in a 5-1 win at the New Jersey Devils on Thursday. Florida has won eight of its past 11 games.

The Panthers had a limited optional skate Friday.

The Hurricanes are coming off a 2-1-1 road trip that continued a positive goal-scoring trend. Carolina has 23 goals in the past five games. Jeff Skinner has nine goals in his past six games, including hat tricks in two of the past three games.

"I think you feel a little more confident," said Skinner, who leads Carolina with 14 goals. "Maybe the game is a little bit slower. It's all those cliches guys say when they feel like they're in a little bit of a streak. You just try to ride it as long as you can, I guess. And as soon as you get off of it, try to get back on it."

The offensive surge has been bolstered by some personnel moves among the forwards. Phillip Di Giuseppe, who has played with Skinner and Victor Rask, has five points in six games since making his NHL debut. Eric Staal, who has spent time at left wing this season, has shifted back to center.

"Guys have found a way to complement lines," Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said. "Our lines are as good as they've been. Having Eric and Jordan [Staal] in the middle makes us a lot more dangerous. Teams don't load up and match up against us as well as they have in the past, so we get better scoring out of it."

Cam Ward will start in goal for the Hurricanes, after serving as Eddie Lack's backup for three games.

Here are the projected lineups:


Jonathan Huberdeau - Aleksander Barkov - Jaromir Jagr

Brandon Pirri - Vincent Trocheck - Reilly Smith

Jussi Jokinen - Rocco Grimaldi - Logan Shaw

Shawn Thornton - Corban Knight - Quinton Howden

Willie Mitchell - Brian Campbell

Dmitry Kulikov - Aaron Ekblad

Dylan Olsen - Erik Gudbranson

Roberto Luongo

Al Montoya

Injured: Alex Petrovic (lower body), Nick Bjugstad (upper body), Steven Kampfer (lower body), Derek MacKenzie (lower body), Connor Brickley (undisclosed)

Scratched: None


Kris Versteeg - Eric Staal - Elias Lindholm

Jeff Skinner - Victor Rask - Phillip Di Giuseppe

Joakim Nordstrom - Jordan Staal - Andrej Nestrasil

Brad Malone - Jay McClement - Chris Terry

Ron Hainsey - Justin Faulk

John-Michael Liles - Brett Pesce

Noah Hanifin - Jaccob Slavin

Cam Ward

Eddie Lack

Injured: James Wisniewski (knee)

Scratched: Riley Nash

Status report: Jagr returned to the Florida lineup against the Devils after missing one game with the flu. He is expected to play against Carolina.

Who's hot: Smith has goals in three straight games...Jokinen, who had a goal and an assist against the Devils, has four points in the past two games...Pirri has a five-game point streak (2-5-7)...Rask has seven points in his past five games (1-6-7)...Justin Faulk has four goals and four assists in his past five games.

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