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Golden Knights at Panthers preview

Vegas goalie Fleury can climb NHL wins list; Barkov to miss third straight game for Florida

by Alain Poupart / Independent Correspondent

GOLDEN KNIGHTS (27-21-7) at PANTHERS (29-17-6)



The Game

The Florida Panthers will be without captain Aleksander Barkov for a third consecutive game when they host the Vegas Golden Knights at BB&T Center on Thursday.

The center, who sustained a knee injury in a 4-0 loss against the Montreal Canadiens on Dec. 1, participated in the morning skate and coach Joel Quenneville said he was hopeful Barkov would return against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday.

Florida, in third place in the Atlantic Division, is 7-1-1 in its past nine games but has been shut out twice in its past three games, including a 1-0 overtime loss at the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday.

This will be the Panthers' first home game since Jan. 16.

The Golden Knights, in third place in the Pacific Division, will conclude a season-long eight-game road trip. They are 3-3-1 through the first seven games, including a 4-2 loss at the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday. Overall, Vegas is 3-6-1 in its past 10 games after going 8-2-1 in its previous 11 games.

Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who is expected to start, needs one victory to pass Henrik Lundqvist (459) for sole possession of fifth place on the NHL all-time list.


Players to watch

Golden Knights forward Paul Stastny has seven points (four goals, three assists) in his past six games and 21 points (10 goals, 11 assists) in 18 games against Florida in his NHL career.

Panthers forward Mike Hoffman has 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in his past 13 games.


They said it

"We're making some good progress. We're playing good hockey. You should enjoy coming to the rink. I know the result wasn't there last game, but we are heading in the right direction and we've just got to keep building on what we're doing." -- Golden Knights coach Peter DeBoer

"I thought we were playing some of our best hockey here at home, so let's get back and play well here and have a little bit more pace and quickness to our game." -- Panthers coach Joel Quenneville


Golden Knights projected lineup

Jonathan Marchessault -- Paul Stastny -- Reilly Smith

Max Pacioretty -- Chandler Stephenson -- Mark Stone

William Carrier -- Cody Eakin -- Alex Tuch

Tomas Nosek -- Nicolas Roy -- Ryan Reaves

Brayden McNabb -- Nate Schmidt

Nick Holden -- Shea Theodore

Jon Merrill -- Zach Whitecloud

Marc-Andre Fleury 

Malcolm Subban

Scratched: Deryk Engelland

Injured: William Karlsson (upper body), Cody Glass (lower body)


Panthers projected lineup

Jonathan Huberdeau -- Vincent Trocheck -- Noel Acciari

Brett Connolly -- Denis Malgin -- Evgenii Dadonov

Frank Vatrano -- Dominic Toninato -- Mike Hoffman

Jayce Hawryluk -- Colton Sceviour -- Mark Pysyk

Mike Matheson -- Aaron Ekblad

Keith Yandle -- MacKenzie Weegar

Riley Stillman -- Anton Stralman

Sergei Bobrovsky

Sam Montembeault

Scratched: Josh Brown

Injured:  Aleksander Barkov (knee), Brian Boyle (undisclosed), Chris Driedger (lower body)


Status report

The Golden Knights did not hold a morning skate. … Karlsson, a center, will miss his seventh consecutive game, but he is close to returning, DeBoer said Wednesday. … Boyle, a center, will miss his third straight game.


Stat pack

Vegas has outshot its past three opponents by at least 10 shots. … Florida has scored at least four goals in each of its past eight victories.

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