Preview: Panthers @ Maple Leafs, 3/17/16

Game #71
Florida Panthers (39-22-9 / 87 PTS) @ Toronto Maple Leafs (24-34-11 / 59 PTS)
Thursday, March 17th, 2016 – 7:30PM EST
Air Canada Center – Toronto, ON

Between the Lines

The Panthers will travel to Toronto to face the Maple Leafs after defeating the Canadiens 4-1 on Tuesday night. Nick Bjugstad, Aleksander Barkov, Jiri Hudler, and Vincent Trocheck all scored a goal to propel the Panthers back into first place in the Atlantic Division, and that spot was held after both the Lightning and Bruins lost on the same night. Al Montoya had another superb performance between the pipes as the Panthers were able to get the victory despite being without some key players in Jussi Jokinen, Erik Gudbranson, and Derek MacKenzie.

Derek MacKenzie is expected to miss at least the next week or two with a small fracture in his right foot after blocking a shot in the 2nd period against the Flyers on Saturday while Cats on the Prowl has learned the Gudbranson is expected to miss about 2 weeks – maybe more – after suffering what appeared to be a lower-body injury on Monday against the Islanders. Dylan Olsen was recalled for Gudbranson on Tuesday, but he did not play and was subsequently sent down again on Wednesday. Jussi Jokinen was a late scratch for the Panthers on Tuesday due to a lower-body injury, although it’s possible he could play on Thursday. Greg McKegg slotted in on the 4th line for MacKenzie.

The Leafs are coming off a 4-1 victory over the Lightning on Tuesday night with goals coming from Connor Carrick, Ben Smith, P.A. Parenteau, and Zach Hyman. Hyman was originally drafted by the Panthers in the 5th round of the 2010 Draft. In the off-season, it was reported that Hyman wanted an NHL spot with the Panthers or else he was not interested in signing after finishing a breakout senior year at the University of Michigan. The Panthers didn’t want to give him that spot right away and instead traded him to the Leafs for Greg McKegg who will be in the lineup on Thursday against Hyman. Hyman spent most of this season in the AHL with the Leafs’ affiliate where he tallied 33 points in 54 games before being recalled following the trade deadline. The 23-year old has 3 goals and 1 assist in his first 9 NHL games.

The two teams have played each other just once this season and that was back on January 26th when the Panthers defeated the Leafs 5-1 thanks to goals from Aleksander Barkov, Jussi Jokinen, Reilly Smith, Vincent Trocheck, and Alex Petrovic.

Projected Line Combinations

11 Huberdeau – 16 Barkov – 68 Jagr L1 41 Soshnikov – 43 Kadri – 47 Komarov
24 Hudler – 21 Trocheck – 18 Smith L2 15 Parenteau – 39 Nylander – 11 Hyman
26 Purcell – 27 Bjugstad – 48 Shaw L3 38 Greening – 23 Laich – 24 Holland
28 Wilson – 41 McKegg – 22 Thornton L4 18 Michalek – 26 Smith – 40 Grabner
Kulikov – 5 Ekblad D1 44 Reilly – 52 Marincin
51 Campbell 6 Petrovic D2 51 Gardiner – 8 Carrick
46 Kindl – 3 Kampfer D3 29 Valiev – 20 Corrado
1 Luongo – 35 Montoya G 45 Bernier – 31 Sparks
Howden, MacKenzie, Kampfer, Gudbranson X Loov, Hunwick, Froese, Boyes
Mitchell, Bolland INJ  van Riemsdyk, Robidas, Horton, Bozak, Lupul

Top 5 Scorers

Florida Panthers

Player Goals Assists Points
1. Jaromir Jagr 23 31 54
2. Jussi Jokinen 13 37 50
3. Vincent Trocheck 21 27 48
4. Jonathan Huberdeau 13 35 46
5. Aleksander Barkov 23 23 46

Toronto Maple Leafs

Player Goals Assists Points
1. Nazem Kadri 12 25 37
2. Leo Komarov 19 17 36
3. P.A. Parenteau 17 17 34
4. Tyler Bozak 10 21 31
5. James van Riemsdyk 14 15 29

Expected Starting Goaltenders

Florida Panthers

Name Record Save % GAA
Roberto Luongo 29-17-6 .921 2.36

Toronto Maple Leafs

Name Record Save % GAA
Jonathan Bernier 9-18-3 .904 2.95

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