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Acciari Back in the Lineup as Panthers' Road Trip Ends in Boston

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

11/12/19 Morning Skate

11/12/19 Morning Skate

Interviews with Head Coach Joel Quenneville and forwards Evgenii Dadonov, Frank Vatrano and Noel Acciari.

  • 01:45 •

Noel Acciari is expected to return to the lineup and faceoff against his former team when the Florida Panthers wrap up their road trip against the Boston Bruins on Tuesday at TD Garden.

After spending his first four NHL seasons with Boston, Acciari joined the Panthers on a three-year deal this summer. Prior to missing the previous three games with a lower-body injury, the 27-year-old center had been off to a hot start, posting four goals, 23 hits and 23 blocked shots.

An integral part of Florida's 12th-ranked penalty kill, Acciari also ranks second on the team in shorthanded minutes per game (2:40) and second in blocked shots while on the kill with seven.

At this morning's skate, Panthers coach Joel Quenneville re-inserted the hard-nosed forward back into his usual spot on the fourth line between wingers Dryden Hunt and Colton Sceviour.

"He's been a real good fit for us right from the outset," Quenneville said of Acciari, who notched 31 points in 180 career games with the Bruins. "He's a real good pro. He does everything you'd expect or want. He came from a real good organization, as far as doing things the right way.

"He's technically sound and has that responsibility and takes pride in being a defensive-type of guy. He takes a lot of D-zone faceoffs, kills penalties and blocks shots. He has scored some key goals for us as well. I think the priority for him and for us is to get those [tough] assignments."

Opening up their three-game road trip with a 2-1 loss on Long Island on Saturday, the Panthers rebounded with a 6-5 shootout win at the New York Rangers on Sunday. Erasing three one-goal deficits in the comeback win, five different Panthers found the back of the net in regulation before Vincent Trocheck netted the winner in the skills competition to secure a big two points.

Having earned at least one point in the standings in 12 of their last 14 games, Florida sits at 8-4-5 on the season and currently occupies the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

"That was a very emotional win, kind of a back-and-forth game," said Panthers winger Frank Vatrano, who scored his fifth goal of the season in the win. "We don't really want to win games 6-5. Obviously, we want to close them out with a smaller score there. We know we have a tough test ahead of us tonight, and we're prepared for it."

Evgenii Dadonov matched a career-high with three points against the Rangers, finishing with one goal and two assists. Ranking second in goals (8) and third in points (16) on the Panthers, the 30-year-old winger has managed to earn at least one point in six of his last eight contests.

Also scoring in the win, Aleksander Barkov enters tonight's matchup on a five-game goal streak - just two shy of matching Pavel Bure's record of seven straight games with a goal. Leading the team with 22 points, the 24-year-old center has four multi-point performances during his streak.

That hot stretch has coincided with a scoring surge for the Panthers power play, which has goals in each of the last six games. In that span, Barkov leads the team with five points with the man advantage, while Keith Yandle and Jonathan Huberdeau have each chipped in four.

Florida's power play currently ranks eighth in the league, converting 22.6 percent of its chances.

"We prepare before each game," Dadonov said of the power play. "We communicate."

Following a six-game winning streak, the Bruins have hit a small bump in the road, dropping each of their last three games, including a 3-2 shootout loss against Philadelphia on Sunday.

During its current skid, Boston has been outscored 11-8. Most of that damage, however, has been done in the first period, where they've been outscored 7-2. And when they've fallen into early holes this season, they've struggled to recover, going 1-2-2 when trailing after 20 minutes.

Still, at 11-3-3, the Bruins currently reside in first place in the Atlantic Division.

"We are a great team and we want to show it every night, but at the same time the other team is preparing (for) us and they want to come up big," Bruins forward David Pastrnak told reporters in Boston after the loss. "We (need to) find a way to prove it every night."

Despite being held without a point in each of his last two games, Pastrnak still leads the team in scoring with 30 points. Of those points, a league-best are 15 goals. Brad Marchand, who scored in the loss to the Flyers, is just behind Pastrnak with 29 points, including a team-high 18 assists.

In 17 career games against Florida, Pastrnak has notched five goals and seven assists.

"They have a great team," Dadonov said of the Bruins. "They're playing good now. I think they're one of the top teams right now in the NHL. I know they've got a couple losses lately, but it's going to make this game even more important as well. For us, it's a good test."

The backbone of Boston's second-ranked defense (2.41 goals allowed per game), Tuukka Rask is expected to be between the pipes tonight. In 10 starts this season, the 32-year-old has posted a 7-2-1 record with a 1.99 goals-against average, .933 save percentage and a pair of shutouts.

At the other end of the ice, the Panthers are expected to counter with Sergei Bobrovsky. Fresh off one of his best starts of the season, the 31-year-old turned away 34 of 36 shots he faced in a 2-1 loss at the Islanders on Saturday. Over his last 11 starts, he's recorded a solid 5-1-4 record.

In their last eight meetings, the Panthers have gone 5-3-0 against the Bruins.

"This is a test tonight against a team that's angry," Quenneville said. "We've got to make sure that we're ready to start the right way. We've got to play in all three zones. We have to make sure that puck battles are contested… We have to respect their team game and structure."

NOTES

-- Jonathan Huberdeau leads the Panthers in goals (9) and ranks second in points (21). The 26-year-old is currently on a five-game point streak, tallying four goals and four assists in that span.

-- Denis Malgin has notched seven points (two goals, five assists) over his last 11 games.

-- Brett Connolly ranks tied for third on Florida in points (11) and tied for third in goals (6).

-- Aaron Ekblad has posted seven points (one goal, six assists) over his last 11 games.

-- Dryden Hunt leads the Panthers in hits (28); Anton Stralman has the most blocks (26).

-- Brian Boyle ranks first on Florida in faceoff win percentage (59.4).

-- Joel Quenneville is two wins ways from 900 as an NHL head coach.

-- Florida ranks second in the league in shots per game (35.1) and is tied for fourth in scoring with 3.53 goals per game. They've scored at least four goals in four of their last five games.

PROJECTED LINEUP

Forwards

Jonathan Huberdeau - Aleksander Barkov - Evgenii Dadonov

Mike Hoffman - Brian Boyle - Brett Connolly

Frank Vatrano - Vincent Trocheck - Denis Malgin

Dryden Hunt - Noel Acciari - Colton Sceviour

Defensemen

Mike Matheson - Aaron Ekblad

Keith Yandle - Anton Stralman

Mark Pysyk - Josh Brown

Goalies

Sergei Bobrovsky

Sam Montembeault

Scratches: MacKenzie Weegar (upper-body), Jayce Hawryluk (upper-body)

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

- Nov. 11: F Dominic Toninato was loaned to AHL Springfield.

- Nov. 6: F Dominic Toninato was recalled from AHL Springfield.

- Nov. 6: D Riley Stillman was loaned to AHL Springfield.

HOW TO WATCH / LISTEN

When: Tuesday, Nov. 12, 7:00 p.m. ET

Where: TD Garden - Boston, MA

TV: FSF

Panthers Radio Network: 560 WQAM (Dade/Broward); 640 WMEN (Palm Beach); 100.3 WCTH (Florida Keys); 1370 WAXE (Treasure Coast)

Stream: FOX Sports GO

Watch Party: Territory On Tap

The team will also be hosting a watch party at Twin Peaks in Davie!

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