SENATORS (10-7-4) at PANTHERS (8-6-6)
TV: RDS2, TSN5, FS-F
The Florida Panthers finish up a three-game home stand Friday against the Ottawa Senators, but will have to do so without starting goalie Roberto Luongo.
After stopping all 11 shots he faced in a 1-0 win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday, Luongo exited the game in the second period with an upper-body injury. Al Montoya preserved the shutout by recording 22 saves of his own.
Montoya will start against the Senators. Luongo did not skate Friday, and the Panthers recalled goaltender Dan Ellis from the American Hockey League to serve as the backup.
A young Florida team is still in the thick of the Stanley Cup Playoff race at the first quarter mark, sitting three points behind the second wild-card team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, with two games in hand. For general manager Dale Tallon, the Panthers current position is one he's pleased with.
"If you told me we'd be where we are after 20 games with all the new and young players, I'd be satisfied with that," he said to the Miami Herald on Friday. "Now it's time for us to keep getting better."
Senators forward Milan Michalek returns to the lineup after being a healthy scratch in the previous game against the St. Louis Blues. Defenseman Chris Phillips also returns after missing the past three games with an undisclosed injury.
"Everybody wants to play and I'm the same," Michalek told the Ottawa Sun on Thursday. "It's frustrating, but I know I haven't been playing good and I wasn't producing.
"If I'm going to play, I'm going to have to get better."
Senators coach Paul MacLean said he's looking for more production from Michalek.
"We look at who we're playing, and how we match up, and we feel that's going to give us the best opportunity to win a game," MacLean said Thursday.
"When you get sat out, it's an opportunity to reboot."
Here are the projected lineups:
Clarke MacArthur – Kyle Turris – Alex Chiasson
Mike Hoffman – Zack Smith – Bobby Ryan
Erik Condra – David Legwand – Chris Neil
Milan Michalek – Curtis Lazar – Mark Stone
Chris Phillips – Erik Karlsson
Jared Cowen – Cody Ceci
Patrick Wiercioch – Eric Gryba
Scratched: Colin Greening, Mika Zibanejad, Mark Borowiecki
Injured: Marc Methot (back/hip)
Sean Bergenheim – Aleksander Barkov – Brad Boyes
Jonathan Huberdeau – Nick Bjugstad – Tomas Fleischmann
Brandon Pirri – Vincent Trocheck - Jimmy Hayes
Tomas Kopecky – Derek Mackenzie – Shawn Thornton
Brian Campbell – Aaron Ekblad
Willie Mitchell – Dmitry Kulikov
Dylan Olsen – Erik Gudbranson
Scratched: Colby Robak
Injured: Jussi Jokinen (flu), Roberto Luongo (upper body), Dave Bolland (lower body), Scottie Upshall (ankle)
Status report: Bolland skated for the second straight day on Friday, and could return to the lineup next week, according to Tallon. Bolland has been out since Oct. 17 with a groin injury. … Luongo, who played a few minutes after sustaining his injury on Wednesday, told the Miami Herald he hopes to be back next week.
Who's hot: Bjugstad has eight goals in his past eight games, including three multigoal games. Two of those goals are game-winners, accounting for half of the Panthers game-winning goals over that stretch.