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Panthers' Thomas day-to-day with lower-body injury

by Alain Poupart

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Florida Panthers goalie Tim Thomas will miss the game against the Washington Capitals on Friday because of a lower-body injury, but will be on the team's Canadian trip next week. He's considered day-to-day.

Thomas, who has started 15 of the Panthers' past 16 games, was injured during practice Thursday. It's the third time this season Thomas has been injured.

Thomas missed four games in mid-October after being forced to leave in the first period of a game against the Philadelphia Flyers. In his third game back, he left the ice late in the third period of a 3-2 shootout loss against the Chicago Blackhawks.

"With him, needing him in this situation, we just want to be overly cautious," Panthers interim coach Peter Horachek said after the morning skate. "We just want to be extra safe."

After Thomas was injured in practice, the Panthers recalled prospect Jacob Markstrom from the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League, but it's veteran Scott Clemmensen who will get the call against the Capitals.

It will be the third start this season for the 36-year-old, who has appeared twice in relief. One of Clemmensen's starts came against the Capitals on Nov. 2 when Washington pulled out a 3-2 shootout victory at Verizon Center.

"He's a done good job, he's a veteran pro guy who's been behind some big goalies before," Horachek said. "He knows how to come in in those situations. We're expecting him to come up with a really big game."

Washington also will be going with a backup goalie Friday night, when Philipp Grubauer will make his third career start.

Recalled from the Hershey Bears on Nov. 30 after Michal Neuvirth sustained an ankle injury, Grubauer is 2-0-0 this season with a 1.36 goals-against average and a .959 save percentage.

Grubauer recorded his first career victory on Sunday when he stopped 30 of 31 shots in a 4-1 decision against the New York Rangers. Grubauer also got the victory Tuesday when he replaced Braden Holtby in the first period of the 6-5 shootout victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Grubauer appeared in two games last season, including one start.

Neuvirth was loaned Thursday to Hershey for conditioning purposes.

"I'm happy to get another start," said Grubauer, who is one of two German goalies in the NHL along with Thomas Greiss of the Phoenix Coyotes. "It's the League I want to be in. It's tremendous for me to get some games in and get some ice time. Even if I go down in a couple of days or in a week, I want to make the most out of it and want to improve."

This will be the second of three meetings between the former Southeast Division rivals, with the last scheduled for Feb. 27 at BB&T Center.

One big change for the Panthers from the previous meeting this season has come behind the bench. Less than a week after the teams met at Verizon Center, Horachek replaced Kevin Dineen as Panthers coach.

Capitals coach Adam Oates said he has seen a difference in the Panthers.

"They seem more structured," Oates said. "I would say if anything they were maybe a little freewheeling, but now they seem a lot more structured. They're obviously playing with a little confidence. Maybe sometimes you make a change for that reason. They do look a little bit more confident as a team."

Here are the projected lineups:


Marcus Johansson - Nicklas Backstrom - Alex Ovechkin

Eric Fehr - Mikhail Grabovski - Troy Brouwer

Jason Chimera - Martin Erat - Joel Ward

Aaron Volpatti - Jay Beagle - Tom Wilson

Karl Alzner - Mike Green

Dmitry Orlov - John Carlson

Nate Schmidt - Steve Oleksy

Philipp Grubauer

Braden Holtby

Scratched: Alexander Urbom

Injured: John Erskine (knee), Jack Hillen (leg), Michal Neuvirth (ankle)

Notes: Erskine made the trip with his teammates and took part in the morning skate but will miss his 21st consecutive game. Oates said there was a chance he could play Sunday in Washington against the Philadelphia Flyers.


Jonathan Huberdeau - Nick Bjugstad - Scottie Upshall

Sean Bergenheim - Aleksander Barkov - Jimmy Hayes

Tomas Fleischmann - Marcel Goc - Tomas Kopecky

Brad Boyes - Shawn Matthias - Jesse Winchester

Brian Campbell - Tom Gilbert

Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver

Dylan Olsen - Erik Gudbranson

Scott Clemmensen

Jacob Markstrom

Scratched: Scott Gomez, Mike Mottau, Krys Barch

Injured: Tim Thomas (lower body), Ed Jovanovski (lower body)

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