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Panthers' homestand concludes with game vs. Jets

by Brian Hunter

JETS (13-12-4) at PANTHERS (7-16-5)


Last 10: Winnipeg 5-3-2; Florida 4-5-1

Season series: This is the first of two games this season between the Winnipeg Jets and Florida Panthers. They haven't played since April 3, 2012, when Andrew Ladd's second goal of the game at 3:12 of overtime gave Winnipeg a 5-4 win in Florida.

Big story: It stands to reason with the Panthers beginning a stretch of three games in four nights that veteran goaltender Tim Thomas has a breather coming. Thomas battled injuries early in the season after returning from a one-year sabbatical, but he's started 12 consecutive games and given Florida the play in net it needs to compete on a nightly basis under interim coach Peter Horachek.

"He's been really good," Horachek said earlier this week. "We're continuing to monitor to see where he is. Obviously he's not going to play every game, but right now every game for us becomes that much more important and we have days off in between. When we get to a back-to-back, that may become another issue."

Team Scope:

Jets: An injury to wing Evander Kane opened up a spot for center John Albert to make his NHL debut for Winnipeg against the New York Rangers on Monday. Albert has never been a huge scorer -- he had three goals in 23 games for the American Hockey League's St. John's IceCaps this season -- but he got his first with the Jets 10 minutes into the second period to give them the lead. Olli Jokinen scored twice in a three-goal third to spark a 5-2 win, the Jets' third in four games.

"He had a tough start," Jokinen told the Winnipeg Free Press. "He had a minus on the first shift but he's a kid who works hard and he didn't look out of place at all."

Panthers: This is the finale of a five-game homestand for Florida, which is looking to snap a three-game losing streak. The power play got the Panthers off to a positive start Tuesday against the Ottawa Senators, as Jonathan Huberdeau connected on a 5-on-3 and Brian Campbell scored on the back end 1:38 later for a 2-0 first-period lead, but the Senators handed them a 4-2 defeat despite Thomas making 41 saves.

"Very frustrated. I feel like we're close but we still make those major mistakes that cost us all the time," Campbell told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "They don't seem to be leaving our game."

Who's hot: Devin Setoguchi has three goals and one assist in his past four games for the Jets. … Scottie Upshall has two goals and two assists during a four-game point streak for the Panthers.

Injury report: Kane (lower body) remains out for Winnipeg. Defensemen Paul Postma (blood clot) and Zach Bogosian (groin) and forward Jim Slater (sports hernia) are on injured reserve. … Florida forward Tomas Kopecky (upper body) practiced and could return to the lineup pending medical clearance. Defensemen Ed Jovanovski (hip) and Matt Gilroy (lower body) and forward Steven Pinizzotto (hip) are on injured reserve.

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