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Panthers' Jovanovski set to make season debut @NHLdotcom

PREDATORS (18-18-5) at PANTHERS (15-20-6)


Last 10: Nashville 4-4-2; Florida 6-3-1

Season series: This is the second and final game between the Nashville Predators and Florida Panthers this season. Nashville won the first game, 4-3 on Oct. 15, as Mike Fisher, Craig Smith and Shea Weber each had a goal and an assist.

Big story: Having not played since March 2013, 17-year veteran Ed Jovanovski is expected to make his season debut Saturday against the Predators. The defenseman underwent hip surgery after playing in six games for Florida last season.

"The way he practices he looks ready. You're kind of working on [uncharted] ground that hasn't been worked on before with this surgery, having a hip replacement," Panthers coach Pete Horachek told the South Florida Sun Sentinel after practice Thursday.

Team scope:

Predators: Nashville had a 1-0 lead against the Bruins on Thursday before battling back to tie the game 2-2 in the third period. Brad Marchand scored in overtime to give the Bruins a 3-2 victory.

"They're one of the best in the East and I thought we played a solid road game and did some real good things. You want the two [points] always, but we build on it," Fisher said after the game.

It completed a tough three-game stretch for the Predators. They beat the Los Angeles Kings and Detroit Red Wings at home to end 2013 before the loss to the Bruins.

"We showed character getting that point back," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "… There was about a seven-minute span there where our forwards did a real poor job in terms of our structure and sort of our recognition on situations. That, to me, we gave them opportunity to go ahead of us and we showed great character coming back."

Panthers: This will be the Panthers' first game of 2014. They last played New Year's Eve, a 2-1 shootout loss against the New York Rangers. Tim Thomas had 31 saves playing in his first game in three weeks after missing time with a lower-body injury.

"I felt good," Thomas said. "Especially for my first game back. I felt like it was one of those nights where if I could see it I could save it."

Florida has won one of its past five games (1-3-1) while allowing 17 non-shootout goals in that stretch.

Who's hot: Fisher has three goals and five assists in three games for the Predators. … Thomas has allowed two goals or fewer in three of his past four starts. Aleksander Barkov has a point in four straight games (one goal, three assists) for the Panthers.

Injury report: Goalie Pekka Rinne (hip) is on IR for the Predators. … Defensemen Erik Gudbranson (orbital bone) and forwards Scottie Upshall (upper body) and Jesse Winchester (hand) are on injured reserve for the Panthers.

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