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Montoya gets call in goal for Panthers

Florida hosts Ottawa, rides four-game win streak

by Chris Stevenson / Correspondent

PANTHERS (46-25-9) at SENATORS (36-35-9)

TV: 7:30 p.m. ET; FS-F, RDS2, TSN5, NHL-TV

OTTAWA - With the Atlantic Division and home ice in the First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs locked up, the Florida Panthers will be looking to keep their game in top shape when they play the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on Thursday.

"You've got to stay mentally sharp because the big games are coming. You just don't want much of a letdown," Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell said. "I feel like we've had a good season up to this point, and why ruin anything with a couple of games? You've got to stay focused. It's probably harder to play these games than any other game, but that's why we're professionals here. You've got to be focused going into it."

Backup goaltender Al Montoya, who has 12 wins this season, will start for the Panthers, who have won four games in a row.

"There's still stuff on the line," Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said. "You want to finish with as many points as you can and as high as you can. The guys know there are only two games left and you're getting ready for the playoffs. We've got to make sure we're ready to play.

"The old story is if you don't play hard, you don't play the game 100 percent, bad things can happen to you out there system-wise if you don't play your game, and you get into bad mistakes. Nobody wants to get hurt at this time of year, so you have to make sure you're playing hard."

Center Derek MacKenzie, who has a sore foot, will be a game-time decision, Gallant said. Left wing Quinton Howden, a scratch against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday, could be back in the lineup.

Defenseman Erik Gudbranson will miss his second game with an upper-body injury.

"Erik's doing real well. He's not playing tonight, but he's doing real good," Gallant said. "He should be fine. We talked to him yesterday. It's precaution more than anything."

The Senators, who will miss the playoffs, will play their final regular-season home game of the season.

Goaltender Craig Anderson will start, the only change from the lineup which lost a 3-0 lead for the second home game in a row Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a 5-3 loss.

Right wing Bobby Ryan, who left the game against the Penguins after two periods, said he will play.

"That's the plan," Ryan said. "I had a quick conversation with the trainer and I feel like I can go. I'm going to wake up Sunday morning with a lot of time on my hands. I'd like to try and grind it out."

Ryan said the Senators wanted to finish a disappointing season with a good effort for the fans in Ottawa.

"They've come out and they've supported us through the highs and the lows this year, last year," he said. "You can't ask for a better base. Tonight's an opportunity for us to reward them with a heck of hockey game against a good team that's coming in playing well."

Here are the projected lineups:


Jonathan Huberdeau - Aleksander Barkov - Jaromir Jagr

Jussi Jokinen - Nick Bjugstad - Reilly Smith

Teddy Purcell - Rocco Grimaldi - Jiri Hudler

Quinton Howden - Greg McKegg - Shawn Thornton

Brian Campbell - Aaron Ekblad

Dmitry Kulikov - Steven Kampfer

Jakub Kindl - Alex Petrovic

Al Montoya

Roberto Luongo

Scratched: Garrett Wilson

Injured: David Bolland (lower body), Willie Mitchell (lower body), Vincent Trocheck (foot), Erik Gudbranson (concussion like symptoms), Derek MacKenzie (foot).


Zack Smith - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Ryan Dzingel

Mike Hoffman - Mika Zibanejad - Bobby Ryan

Matt Puempel - Nick Paul - Alex Chiasson

Buddy Robinson - Curtis Lazar - Chris Neil

Fredrik Claesson - Erik Karlsson

Michael Kostka - Cody Ceci

Ben Harpur - Chris Wideman

Craig Anderson

Andrew Hammond

Scratched: Scott Gomez

Injured: Dion Phaneuf (lower body), Mark Borowiecki (knee), Kyle Turris (ankle), Chris Phillips (back), Clarke MacArthur (concussion), Patrick Wiercioch (undisclosed), Marc Methot (undisclosed), Mark Stone (undisclosed).

Status report: Stone said he still has stiffness in his neck from the hit he took from Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien on March 30 and will miss the game against Florida. "I think that's the hardest anyone has ever been hit," Stone said.

Who's hot: Barkov has five goals and six assists in a seven-game point-scoring streak. Huberdeau has six goals and four assists in a seven-game points-scoring streak. Ekblad has six assists in his past four games. … Hoffman has two goals and two assists in his past two games. Karlsson has two goals and two assists in his past three games.

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