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Florida Panthers, St. Louis Blues Both Desperate for Rebound



Florida panthers tkachuk
Matthew Tkachuk handles the puck while under pressure from St. Louis defenseman Nick Leddy on Feb. 14. Florida went 0-2 against Tkachuk’s hometown Blues last season. (AP Photo/Scott Kane)

SUNRISE — The Florida Panthers and St. Louis Blues do not have much in common this season.

Florida got off to a strong start and comes into tonight’s game tied for second in the Atlantic Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference. 

Meanwhile, St. Louis sits a skosh under .500 at 15-15-1 and sits outside of a playoff spot. 

Last week, the Blues fired their Stanley Cup-winning coach

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Yet tonight, the two come into their game in Sunrise needing to bounce back after a tough loss.

Florida went down 3-1 in Calgary on Monday night, the finale of a five-game road trip in which they were shutout twice and picked up four of the available 10 points. 

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The Blues lost 6-1 at Tampa Bay after winning their first two under interim coach Drew Bannister, who replaced Craig Berube last Tuesday.

“We have to respect their speed because they have a good team,” Florida coach Paul Maurice said after practice on Wednesday morning. “They could have had three shorthanded goals in that first period and sometimes, the score does not tell you the game.”

Usually, the first home game following a long road trip is rough as a team struggles to get going.

The Panthers need to get off to a quick start.

“We have to play as fast as we can,” Maurice said. “The challenge is the first five, 10 minutes in getting your legs up to speed. The time zone changes, we have been bouncing around a little bit, but we have 18 road games in and that’s a big number. I think there are two other teams there. But it is not physical, it is the mental side of getting back to playing hard hockey.”

Of course, Tampa Bay was coming off a similar five-game trip as Florida just returned from on Tuesday when it jumped out to a 3-0 first-period lead on the Blues and chased goalie Jordan Bennington in the second. 

Bannister is well aware. 

“At the end of the day, we have to be ready to play,” said Bannister, who said he plans on starting Joel Hofer in net tonight. “Tampa came off (a trip) and outplayed us. That cannot happen again. We have to ready from the drop of the puck.”

— Maurice said Wednesday that he expects to roll with the same lineup although Sergei Bobrovsky will likely start.

Anton Lundell skated Wednesday but left the ice before practice started. Maurice said he may get back into the lineup Thursday after he has missed the past XX with illness.

“He is getting better, we will put him on the ice (Thursday) and see,” Maurice said. “He is improving and is definitely on the uptrend. He is possible.’’

Jonah Gadjovich, however, remains out.

“He is three or four days behind where Lundy was last week,” Maurice said. “He’s not feeling great but is getting stronger.”



  • When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
  • Radio: WQAM 560-AM; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • This Season — At Florida: Thursday. At St. Louis: Jan. 9.
  • Last Season: Blues won 2-0
  • All-time Regular Season Series: St. Louis leads 26-12-1, 3 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Saturday vs. Vegas, 3 p.m.

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