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Preview: Wild at Panthers

Defenseman Matt Dumba returns for Minnesota; Florida tries to end slump

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WILD (42-17-6) at PANTHERS (29-25-11)

7:30 p.m. ET; FS-F, FS-N+, NHL.TV

 

Wild team scope

Defenseman Matt Dumba will return to the lineup after missing two games because of a virus. The Minnesota Wild will look to avoid losing three straight games in regulation for the first time this season. They lost three in a row from (Nov. 26-Dec. 4), but two were in shootouts. "Don't get down," coach Bruce Boudreau told the Star Tribune after morning skate. "I mean, just because things don't work out right for us, we can correct this thing pretty quickly here. That's what we plan on doing. It's been the perfect storm of teams we're playing recently. They all need to win, they're all motivated to win, they're all rested to win, but at the same token, it's a great test, and it's a great challenge." Minnesota is one point ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the Central Division and Western Conference. Backup Darcy Kuemper will start for the first time since Feb. 28, when he allowed five goals on 29 shots in a 6-5 win against the Winnipeg Jets.

 

Panthers team scope

The Florida Panthers conclude a three-game homestand. Florida has lost three straight games and six of seven (1-5-1). The Panthers are six points behind the New York Islanders for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference with a game in hand, and are seven points behind the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division with two games in hand. "[The Wild] are a Stanley Cup team. ... We have to go out tonight and get two points," coach Tom Rowe told the Panthers website after the morning skate. James Reimer will make his third straight start with Roberto Luongo out with a lower-body injury. Florida ranks first in the League in penalty-killing (86.4) and is 27-for-27 in its past 11 games. "We have to find a way to compete and really get on a roll here," forward Nick Bjugstad said. "We still have a chance. Anything can happen at this point in the season. ... This would be a good way to start off a nice little streak. Beating these guys would be huge for us." Forward Thomas Vanek will face the Wild for the first time since he was bought out by Minnesota following last season. Vanek signed with the Detroit Red Wings on July 1 and was traded to Florida on March 1.

 

Wild projected lineup

Zach Parise -- Eric Staal -- Chris Stewart

Jason Zucker -- Mikko Koivu -- Mikael Granlund

Nino Niederreiter -- Martin Hanzal -- Ryan White

Charlie Coyle -- Erik Haula -- Jason Pominville

Ryan Suter -- Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin -- Nate Prosser

Marco Scandella -- Matt Dumba

Darcy Kuemper

Devan Dubnyk

Scratched: Jordan Schroeder, Gustav Olofsson

Injured: Christian Folin (upper body)

 

Panthers projected lineup

Jonathan Huberdeau -- Aleksander Barkov -- Jaromir Jagr

Thomas Vanek -- Vincent Trocheck -- Jonathan Marchessault

Jussi Jokinen -- Nick Bjugstad -- Reilly Smith

Michael Sgarbossa -- Derek MacKenzie -- Colton Sceviour

Keith Yandle -- Aaron Ekblad

Mark Pysyk -- Alex Petrovic

Michael Matheson -- Jason Demers

James Reimer

Reto Berra

Scratched: Jakub Kindl, Denis Malgin, Shawn Thornton

Injured: Roberto Luongo (lower body)

 

Status report

Dumba's return means Olofsson likely will be scratched. ... Luongo skated before practice but is still at least one week away from returning.

 

Who's hot

Staal has two goals in his past three games. Granlund has nine points (five goals, four assists) in his past eight games. ... Ekblad has two goals in his past three games. Huberdeau has 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in 14 games after missing the first 51 games of the season because of an ankle injury.

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