SUNRISE, Fla. — Things have come full circle for Florida Panthers goaltender Jacob Markstrom.
The talented Swede made his NHL debut in a relief appearance against the New Jersey Devils Jan. 23, 2011. His coach at the time was Peter DeBoer.
Now Markstrom is set to face his former coach when the Panthers play host to the Devils on Saturday night at BB&T Center.
Markstrom’s appearance in the 2011 game, when he replaced Scott Clemmensen after the first period of a 5-2 loss, was his only NHL action that season. After bouncing back and forth between Florida and San Antonio of the American Hockey League the past two seasons, Markstrom has become the Panthers’ starting goalie.
He’ll make his sixth start in the past seven games and had allowed six goals in four starts before four deflections got by him in Thursday’s 5-4 shootout victory against the Buffalo Sabres.
"I’ve been watching him from afar. Glad to see he’s playing as well as he has," DeBoer said before his team held an optional morning skate at BB&T Center. "He’s played some great games for them. You knew he would. He’s got great pedigree. Everyone knew he was going to be a good goaltender.
"Young guys take some time. It takes a few years to become good players. Not everyone jumps in like a [Jonathan] Huberdeau does."
Markstrom will be going against Martin Brodeur, who will be playing on consecutive nights for the first time this season.
Brodeur allowed four goals on 25 shots Friday night in the Devils’ 5-4 shootout loss against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The 40-year-old has started New Jersey’s past four games after missing the previous 13 with a back injury.
"I think he’s fresh," DeBoer said. "He missed some time. We’re in the stretch here and I just think it’s not an issue."
DeBoer said he was contemplating making some lineup changes for Saturday’s game but wouldn’t make any final determinations until the afternoon.
The Panthers will have enforcer George Parros back in the lineup after he missed the past six games with an upper-body injury. With Parros back, the Panthers on Saturday reassigned forward Greg Rallo to San Antonio.
Not surprisingly, the Panthers will keep intact the new forward line of Huberdeau, Shawn Matthias and Peter Mueller after they combined for six points Thursday night in their first game together.
Matthias, who scored twice against Buffalo, has seven goals in his past 11 games. Huberdeau snapped a nine-game goalless drought before scoring in the shootout.
"They’re a pretty good mix," Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. "They certainly had a solid game last time. They created some things on the offensive side, but they were responsible on the defensive side as well. You’re always looking for that mix. When a guy is hot, like Shawn Matthias is right now, that tends to rub off on people."
Here are the projected lines for Saturday’s game between the Devils and Panthers:
Patrik Elias - Travis Zajac - David Clarkson
Adam Henrique - Andrei Loktionov - Matt D'Agostini
Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Tim Sestito - Tom Kostopoulos
Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Anton Volchenkov - Peter Harrold
Scratched: D Adam Larsson, C Harri Pesonen, LW Krystopher Barch
Injured: RW Ilya Kovalchuk (shoulder), D Henrik Tallinder (lower body), RW Dainius Zubrus (wrist)
Jonathan Huberdeau - Shawn Matthias - Peter Mueller
Tomas Fleischmann - Marcel Goc - Tomas Kopecky
Scottie Upshall - Drew Shore - Mike Santorelli
Quinton Howden - Jerred Smithson - George Parros
Brian Campbell - Tyson Strachan
Filip Kuba - Dmitry Kulikov
TJ Brennan - Erik Gudbranson
Injured: RW Jack Skille (upper body), LW Eric Selleck (upper body), D Ed Jovanovski (hip), RW Kris Versteeg (knee), C Stephen Weiss (wrist), G Jose Theodore (lower body), D Mike Weaver (lower body), LW Sean Bergenheim (lower body)