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Panthers adjust lines; Penguins still without Malkin

Goalie Montoya to start for Florida; Fleury expected for Pittsburgh

by Alain Poupart / Correspondent

PENGUINS (28-19-7) at PANTHERS (32-18-6) 

TV: 7:30 p.m. ET; TVA Sports, SN1, SNO, SNP, ROOT, FS-F, NHL.TV 

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers could be switching forward lines for their game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday as they deal with a growing list of injuries.

Forwards Brandon Pirri (ankle) and Quinton Howden (upper body) will each miss the game after they were injured in a 5-0 loss to the Nashville Predators on Saturday. Center Aleksander Barkov (upper body) was placed on injured reserve Sunday when the Panthers recalled forward Greg McKegg from Portland of the American Hockey League. 

The Panthers also continue to be without defensemen Erik Gudbranson (upper body) and Willie Mitchell (lower body). 

Based on the morning skate line combinations, forwards Jaromir Jagr and Jonathan Huberdeau will be split up. Jagr skated with Vincent Trocheck and Reilly Smith, and Huberdeau skated with Nick Bjugstad and Jussi Jokinen.  

"Things haven't been clicking the last two games," Bjugstad said. "It just didn't go well. I don't know if it was because guys can't play well with each other, I think it was just more so we didn't find our wind, find our effort. We're going to try our hardest tonight to make these lines work and do what we can." 

The Panthers have lost four of five (1-3-1), a stretch that began with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Penguins at BB&T Center on Feb. 6. 

Defenseman Kris Letang and center Sidney Crosby were each involved in all three Pittsburgh goals, including Letang's overtime winner that capped a comeback from a 2-0 deficit in the final six minutes. 

Crosby had a goal and two assists to become the 10th-fastest to reach 900 NHL points; he joined Mario Lemieux and Jagr as the only three Penguins to reach that mark. 

Pittsburgh also won the first game in overtime, with Evgeni Malkin scoring the game-winner. 

Malkin didn't play at BB&T Center on Feb. 6 and will be out of the lineup for a sixth consecutive game. Coach Mike Sullivan received an encouraging report from athletic trainer Chris Stewart after practice Sunday. 

"[Malkin] had a good day today," Sullivan told the Penguins website. "He is making progress, so that's encouraging. Hopefully he continues to make progress. He's that much closer. We'll see. We'll evaluate when we get back (to Pittsburgh) after this game." 

The Penguins are 7-2-0 in their past nine games, including a 2-1 shootout victory against the Carolina Hurricanes in their last game Friday. 

Pittsburgh, the third consecutive opponent coming to South Florida on its Fathers' trip, did not have a morning skate Monday after practicing at BB&T Center on Sunday. 

Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is expected to start for the Penguins. 

After Roberto Luongo started back-to-back losses against the St. Louis Blues (5-3) and Nashville Friday and Saturday, goalie Al Montoya will get the call for Florida. 

"It's time for Al," Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said. "Things didn't go great for us in the weekend, so [Montoya] is going to get a chance to go in there tonight. He's fresh and he's ready to go, and he's been great for us all year." 

Florida came in with a three-point lead atop the Atlantic Division over the second-place Detroit Red Wings. 

"You don't want to make any excuses, but we're missing a lot of very good players," said Jagr, who turned 44 on Monday. "It's going to be tough. We know that. Any game is kind of tough, especially when it's Pittsburgh. We played them a week ago and we kind of blew the lead. We've got to make sure we play the same way like we played the last game against Pittsburgh. And it's not going to be easy." 

Here are the projected lineups: 


Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist   

Carl Hagelin - Matt Cullen - Phil Kessel  

Tom Kuhnhackl - Oskar Sundqvist - Bryan Rust   

Conor Sheary - Kevin Porter - Scott Wilson   

Olli Maatta - Kris Letang   

Brian Dumoulin - Trevor Daley  

Ben Lovejoy - Derrick Pouliot   

Marc-Andre Fleury 

Jeff Zatkoff   

Injured: Beau Bennett (upper body), Nick Bonino (hand), David Warsofsky (concussion), Evgeni 
Malkin (lower body), Eric Fehr (lower body) 

Scratched: Sergei Plotnikov, Ian Cole   


Jonathan Huberdeau - Nick Bjustad - Jussi Jokinen 

Reilly Smith - Vincent Trocheck - Jaromir Jagr 

John McFarland - Derek MacKenzie - Logan Shaw  

Garrett Wilson - Greg McKegg - Shawn Thornton  

Brian Campbell - Alex Petrovic  

Dmitry Kulikov - Aaron Ekblad   

Steven Kampfer - Brent Regner  

Al Montoya 

Roberto Luongo 

Injured: Brandon Pirri (ankle), Quinton Howden (upper body), Aleksander Barkov (upper body), Erik Gudbranson (upper body), Willie Mitchell (lower body), Dave Bolland (lower body) 

Status report: Bonino will miss his 13th straight game with a hand injury. ... McKegg, a third-round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2010 NHL Draft, will be making his Panthers debut. He appeared in four games for the Maple Leafs the past two seasons. ... Gallant said Pirri would miss a couple of weeks, but added his injury wasn't as severe as initially feared. ... Barkov and Gudbranson each skated on their own Monday. Gallant is hoping they will be ready for the Panthers' next game Thursday against the San Jose Sharks at BB&T Center. 

Who's hot: Crosby (six) and Letang (five) combined for 11 points in the two games against Florida this season. ... With 739 goals, Jagr needs two to tie Brett Hull for third place on the NHL's all-time list.

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