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Oilers, Panthers welcome returning players

by Alain Poupart

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The struggling Edmonton Oilers will get a couple of key players back when they face the Florida Panthers on Tuesday.

Veteran forward Ryan Smyth returns after missing five games because of a groin injury and goalie Devan Dubnyk will make his first start since Oct. 24.

Dubnyk appeared in relief of Jason LaBarbera against the Phoenix Coyotes on Oct. 25 but left after 39 seconds due to an ankle injury.

The Oilers have lost their past five games, including back-to-back shutouts against the Toronto Maple Leafs (4-0) and Detroit Red Wings (5-0). They face a Florida team also in the midst of a five-game losing streak.

"Obviously extremely excited," Smyth said of his return. "When you're ever injured or hurt you want to try to get back as quickly as you can to help out. [Tuesday] is a big day and hopefully I can contribute and be a part of something here."

Kris Versteeg will be back in the Panthers' lineup after being a healthy scratch Saturday against the Washington Capitals.

Versteeg has two goals and three assists in 12 games but didn't have a point in his past three games. He said Saturday marked the first time in his career he ever had been a healthy scratch.

"You never want to be taken out but you deal with it the best you can and move on and hopefully have a big effort [Tuesday]," Versteeg said. "I hadn't been playing my best. I hope to really turn that around."

With Versteeg back in the lineup veteran Scott Gomez will be among the healthy scratches, along with forward Krys Barch and defenseman Matt Gilroy.

Gomez has one goal and three assists on the season, but no points in the past seven games. This will be the first time this season he’s a healthy scratch.

Here are the projected lineups for the Oilers and Panthers on Tuesday:


Jordan Eberle - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Ales Hemsky

Ryan Smyth - Sam Gagner - Nail Yakupov

Ryan Jones - Boyd Gordon - Mark Arcobello

Luke Gazdic - Will Acton - Ben Eager

Andrew Ference - Jeff Petry

Nick Schultz - Taylor Fedun

Ladislav Smid - Philip Larsen

Devan Dubnyk

Jason LaBarbera

Scratched: Ryan Hamilton

Injured: Justin Schultz (groin), David Perron (neck), Taylor Hall (knee), Jesse Joensuu (back), Steve MacIntyre (knee)


Jonathan Huberdeau - Aleksander Barkov - Tomas Fleischmann

Sean Bergenheim - Shawn Matthias - Brad Boyes

Tomas Kopecky - Marcel Goc - Kris Versteeg

Scottie Upshall - Nick Bjugstad - Jesse Winchester

Brian Campbell - Tom Gilbert

Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver

Ryan Whitney - Erik Gudbranson

Jacob Markstrom

Scott Clemmensen

Scratched: Scott Gomez, Matt Gilroy, Krys Barch

Injured: Tim Thomas (lower body), Ed Jovanovski (lower body), Steven Pinizzotto (lower body)

Notes: Tim Thomas will miss his fifth consecutive game but Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said he could make his return during the team's upcoming three-game road trip. The Panthers face the Boston Bruins on Thursday, the Ottawa Senators on Saturday and the New York Rangers on Sunday.

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