|Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell skates with the puck against the Buffalo Sabres at the BB&T Center on Feb. 28, 2013. Campbell tied the game at three with a late third period goal but the Panthers fell 4-3 in the shootout (Getty Images)
Finally home. After playing a season-high five-game road trip in which the Panthers won the first two games before falling short in their final three, Florida returns home as they host the Buffalo Sabres Thursday night.
While in the game up until the very end against New Jersey (2-1), NY Islanders (3-0 with two late empty net goals) and Toronto (3-2), the Panthers will look to continue their play from the road. Just finish in the win column.
"It didn't finish the way we wanted the road trip to," said Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen following Florida's morning skate at the BB&T Center. "We played some solid hockey for stretches out there and we want to bring that home. That's important for us."
Goaltender Jacob Markstrom figures to get the start as he was the first one off the ice and Dineen was quick on words to describe the goaltender's play of late. The 23-year old has stopped 139 of 145 shots (.959 SV%) in the four games he played on the recent road trip.
"You can say a lot of things," said Dineen about Markstrom when asked about his play. "He's given us a chance to win every night."
Also in the lineup will be fellow 23-year old, TJ Brennan, who was a healthy scratch in the last game against Toronto. The blueliner will get a chance to skate against the team that he was drafted by and played with up until being traded to the Panthers on March 15.
"TJ's been fine. He's got a heavy shot," said Dineen. "We're having discussions on the way we play in certain situations but TJ's everything we expected that he would come in and be able to fill a roll.
"He's in a situation where we have seven D and we have a decision to make. He was a healthy scratch but he'll be in against his old team."
One injured player that is close to returning is enforcer George Parros (upper body). He missed the entire road trip but skated with the team Thursday.
"He won't play tonight but we're hopeful that he'll be fit enough to play Saturday," said Dineen.
Projected Lines vs Sabres
Projected D Pairs vs Sabres
Projected Goaltenders vs Sabres