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Panthers' Pirri out; Wild's Veilleux to play 500th game

by Dan Myers

PANTHERS (24-17-11) at WILD (26-20-7)


ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Forward Brandon Pirri did not make the trip north with the Florida Panthers as they prepare to play the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center on Thursday. He will miss the second game of a back-to-back Friday against the Dallas Stars and could be out up to two weeks.

Pirri sustained an upper-body injury on the first shift Tuesday in a 6-2 win against the Anaheim Ducks. He stayed behind in Florida to get treatment for the injury, believed to be a shoulder ailment.

Florida coach Gerard Galant said defenseman Willie Mitchell is close to returning from an upper-body injury after missing the past three games. He too did not make the trip, but could return Sunday when the Panthers return home against the St. Louis Blues.

The Wild recalled forward Stephane Veilleux from Iowa of the American Hockey League Wednesday and he will skate on the fourth line. For Veilleux, this will mark his 500th NHL game.

Drafted by the Wild in the third round of the 2001 NHL Draft, Veilleux has been up and down between the AHL and NHL in recent years.

"Definitely proud of it," Veilleux said. "It's a big accomplishment. Hard work pays off. I'm really proud especially to do it with this organization that I got drafted by."

With Ryan Carter, Jason Zucker and Matt Cooke out for the foreseeable future, Wild coach Mike Yeo said he wanted Veilleux to help supplement Minnesota's penalty kill while bringing speed and a veteran presence.

"He plays the game the way that he's approached his career," Yeo said. "If you give him five shifts or 12 shifts, he's going to give you everything that he's got and he's going to be a good teammate. He has a defined role and he understands it and takes pride in it."

The Wild reassigned defenseman Christian Folin to Iowa following the morning skate. Folin has been a healthy scratch in each of the past six games.

Goaltender Devan Dubnyk will get his 12th consecutive start for Minnesota since being acquired from the Arizona Coyotes on Jan. 14.

The Panthers will counter with Roberto Luongo, who is 3-9-3 in his career at Xcel Energy Center and has been pulled in three of his past four starts here.

Here are the projected lineups:


Jonathan Huberdeau - Aleksander Barkov - Brad Boyes

Jussi Jokinen - Nick Bjugstad - Jimmy Hayes

Sean Bergenheim - Dave Bolland - Tomas Fleischmann

Shawn Thornton - Derek MacKenzie - Scottie Upshall

Brian Campbell - Aaron Ekblad

Dmitry Kulikov - Erik Gudbranson

Steven Kampfer - Alex Petrovic

Roberto Luongo

Al Montoya

Scratched: Tomas Kopecky, Dylan Olsen

Injured: Brandon Pirri (upper body), Willie Mitchell (upper body)


Zach Parise - Mikko Koivu - Jason Pominville

Thomas Vanek - Mikael Granlund - Jordan Schroeder

Nino Niederreiter - Charlie Coyle - Justin Fontaine

Stephane Veilleux - Erik Haula - Kyle Brodziak

Ryan Suter - Jonas Brodin

Marco Scandella - Jared Spurgeon

Nate Prosser - Matt Dumba

Devan Dubnyk

Niklas Backstrom

Scratched: Darcy Kuemper, Stu Bickel

Injured: Ryan Carter (upper body), Jason Zucker (clavicle), Matt Cooke (sports hernia), Keith Ballard (head/face)

Status report: Zucker was scheduled to have surgery on his fractured clavicle Thursday. He will likely miss the remainder of the season.

Who's hot: Ekblad has goals in consecutive games, including the game-winner Tuesday against Anaheim. He has three goals and three assists over his past eight games. … Koivu has 11 points over his past 11 games, including nine assists over that span.

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