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Following Back Surgery, McGinn to Make Season Debut Against Stars

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

2/12/19 Morning Skate

2/12/19 Morning Skate

Interviews with Bob Boughner, Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau and Jamie McGinn

  • 01:20 •

SUNRISE, Fla. - After undergoing back surgery and missing the first 54 games of the regular season, veteran forward Jamie McGinn will make his long-awaited return to the Florida Panthers lineup when the Dallas Stars visit BB&T Center on Tuesday night.

"I've been working hard off the ice," McGinn said of his recovery. "It was pretty frustrating the way the year the started, just being in a lot of pain and stuff. It was something that had to be done, but I was determined to play this year. I wanted to help the team any way I could. I'm just glad to get the opportunity to come back in tonight."

After undergoing back surgery in mid-September, it was believed that McGinn could potentially miss the entire 2018-19 season. But with the support of the Panthers and in taking a day-by-day approach to his rehab, he said he was able to get back to work much sooner than expected.

"The team was very good about it," said McGinn, who tallied 13 goals and 16 assists in 76 games last season. "They gave me as long as I needed. It was going to be a year thing, but my plan was to get back. They gave me as much time as I needed to get healthy and get ready, so I thank them a lot. They didn't put any pressure on me and let me just do my thing to get back."

McGinn underwent a similar back surgery in 2014 while playing for the Colorado Avalanche.

"Off the start, the surgery was a little more painful, but I recovered quicker," McGinn said when asked to compare the two ordeals. "The muscle memory came back quicker. Just going through it before, I knew it was a long, slow process. It definitely helped having gone through it before."

When he felt good enough to get into a game, McGinn was loaned to Florida's AHL affiliate in Springfield, Mass. on Feb. 1. Almost immediately, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound forward picked up right where he left off, notching two goals and two assists in four games with the Thunderbirds.

Following an injury to Colton Sceviour, McGinn was recalled by the Panthers on Feb. 10.

"He went down to Springfield and played really well for those guys and was aggressive," Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. "He was all-in down there. It was nice to see him get down there, test himself and get ready to play back up here… To be honest, I thought he was out for the season. That's what we all thought. His rehab went extremely well; surgery went well. He feels good and strong and obviously he's cleared to play… He's worked hard to get back."

Boughner said he will deploy McGinn on a line alongside Troy Brouwer and Riley Sheahan against the Stars tonight, giving the team a physical line of three 200-plus pound forwards.

"It's a heavy line," Boughner said. "It's a veteran line. It's a line that I hope can produce some energy and physicality and spend some time on the forecheck and in the offensive zone."

Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov said McGinn's return will also help the locker room.

"He's one of those guys who makes the team a lot better," Barkov said. "Team chemistry, everything in the room and on the ice, he makes everything better. We're really happy to have him back. He's a great guy and even better player. It's really, really good to have him back."

With McGinn back in the lineup, the Panthers (23-23-8) will look to continue building upon one of their best stretches of the season. Despite suffering a 5-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in their last outing on Sunday, they have still secured wins in six of their last nine games overall.

Against the Lightning, who boast the top offense and record in the NHL, the Panthers pieced together one of their best periods of the season, scoring a pair of goals while outshooting Tampa 17-3 in the middle frame. And in that 20 minutes, there could be a recipe for success.

"We played a pretty good second period against a really good team," Barkov said. "We have to be happy with that, but of course we lost the game. There are not too many good things from last game, but we have a new game tonight. We're ready to go."

In the midst of a five-game road trip, the Stars (28-22-5) enter tonight's matchup on the heels of consecutive losses to the Nashville Predators and Arizona Coyotes. Prior to that, however, they had won each of their previous five games, outscoring their opponents 16-8 during that span.

Tyler Seguin leads Dallas in both goals (22) and points (51), but is just one of two players on the team to have eclipsed the 40-point mark so far this season. By comparison, five members of the Panthers have already achieved that feat, with Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau having 50-plus.

"We've been paying attention to details," Huberdeau said of Florida's recent games. "We've played hard. When we win, everybody's contributing. That's what we've been doing the past 10 games, so that's what we've got to keep doing."

NOTES

-- Aleksander Barkov leads the Panthers in scoring with 53 points, including four goals and 10 assists over his last 15 games. The 23-year-old center also ranks third in the NHL in takeaways (72), while his 22:52 of average ice time per game paces all forwards.

-- In the midst of his fourth career 50-point season, Jonathan Huberdeau ranks second on the Panthers in scoring with 52 points, including a team- leading 39 assists. The 25-year-old winger needs just four more to pass the career-high 42 he posted during the 2017-18 campaign.

-- Frank Vatrano leads Florida in goals (8), points (13) and shots on goal (39) over the last 14 games. The 24-year-old winger also paces the club with 18 even-strength goals this season, while having already reached new career-bests in both goals (19) and points (30).

-- Mike Hoffman leads the Panthers in goals (25), power-play goals (11), game-winning goals (5) and shots on goal (174). The 29-year-old needs just five more goal to surpass his previous career-high (29, 2015-16) and achieve the first 30-goal campaign of his career.

-- Since being acquired in a multi-player trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins last week, forwards Derick Brassard (one goal, two assists) and Riley Sheahan (three assists) have combined for six points through their first five games with the Panthers.

-- Keith Yandle leads all Panthers defensemen in points (42) and assists (34), while his 27 power-play points on the season place him fourth in the NHL and first among all blueliners.

-- Mike Matheson leads Florida with 80 blocked shots and has posted three points (one goal, two assists) over his last three games.

-- Aaron Ekblad has seven points (two goals, five assists) over his last seven games.

GEICO GOALIE MATCHUP OF THE GAME

Roberto Luongo (12-12-1, 3.19 GAA, .895 SV%) vs. Anton Khudobin (9-10-3, 2.45 GAA, .924 SV%)

Luongo will get the nod in net for the Panthers. With a win, the 39-year-old will tie Ed Belfour for the second-most wins by a goaltender in NHL history (484). Over his last five starts, he owns a 4-1-0 record, including three games with a save percentage above .930. In his career against Dallas, he's gone 15-8-3 with a 2.29 goals-against average, .926 save percentage and two shutouts.

With starter Ben Bishop injured, Khudobin is expected to start for the Stars. The 32-year-old backup owns a 1-3-1 record over his last five decisions, but never allowed more than three goals in a single game in that span. In his career against Florida, he's gone 3-2-0 with a 2.43 goals-against average, .930 save percentage and one shutout.

PROJECTED LINEUP

Forwards

Mike Hoffman - Aleksander Barkov - Evgenii Dadonov

Jonathan Huberdeau - Vincent Trocheck - Frank Vatrano

Derick Brassard - Henrik Borgstrom - Denis Malgin

Jamie McGinn - Riley Sheahan - Troy Brouwer

Defense

Keith Yandle - Aaron Ekblad

Mike Matheson - Mark Pysyk

Bogdan Kiselevich - Josh Brown

Goalies

Roberto Luongo

James Reimer

Scratches: Micheal Haley, Ian McCoshen, MacKenzie Weegar (upper body)

Injured Reserve: Derek MacKenzie (shoulder), Jayce Hawryluk (lower body), Colton Sceviour (upper body)

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

- Feb. 10: F Jamie McGinn was recalled from Springfield (AHL)

- Feb. 8: D Bogdan Kiselevich was recalled from Springfield (AHL)

- Feb. 1: F Jamie McGinn was loaned to Springfield (AHL)

IN-ARENA ACTIVATIONS

- 50/50 Raffle (buy digital tickets here)

-Student Rush 

- Taco Tuesday ($3 Tacos at "Taco 'Bout It)

- FAU Takeover Night

BITE OF BB&T CENTER

Cheesy Tots for $8 at the "Chick it Out" and "Smells Like Brunch" stands outside section 105

HOW TO WATCH

When: Tuesday, Feb. 12, 7:00 p.m.

Where: BB&T Center - Sunrise, FL

TV: Fox Sports Florida (Alternate Channels Below)

Dish: 451

Dish HD: 9539

Dish Hopper: 412-39

DTV HD: 654-1

AT&T: 721

AT&T HD: 1721

Stream: HERE

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

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