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Panthers host Chicago Blackhawks again with top line intact

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The top line of the Florida Panthers — Carter Verhaeghe (23), Sasha Barkov (16) and Anthony Duclair (91) — celebrate Barkov’s third-period goal along with Gustav Forsling and Radko Gudas on Saturday night. // Photo by Roger Topalian, 21st Century Photography

With Anthony Duclair out due to injury, the Panthers changed up their top line only to reunite them in the second period of Saturday’s win over the Chicago Blackhawks.

It was one heck of a reunion.

Sasha Barkov scored twice, Carter Verhaeghe once and Duclair assisted on both of Barkov’s goals in the 4-2 win at BB&T Center.

Monday night brings the rematch.

We don’t expect Joel Quenneville to split these three up any time soon, especially if they play like that.

The Panthers have won five of six games and went into Sunday in a four-way tie with Tampa Bay, Toronto and the Islanders for the most points in the league.

Carolina now holds that distinction.

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Anyway, the Panthers’ top line has been one reason for the success they have had this season and it was obvious things clicked as soon as they all got back together.

Barkov has been on a tear recently, scoring four goals with 12 points in his past nine games.

Verhaeghe has three goals in his past six games.

Duclair is just happy to be back on the ice after missing six games with an upper body injury.

“It was great to come back,’’ Duclair said.

“You never like to be injured and watch the boys from the press box, but we have an unreal medical staff here that took great care of me. Just happy to be back playing with these guys and getting some wins.”

Sergei Bobrovsky is likely going back in net for the Panthers on Monday as they try to go 4-0 against Chicago this season and continue to extend their seven-point lead on the fourth-place Blackhawks.

Radko ‘The Butcher’ Gudas has led to a rougher, tougher Panthers team

Bobrovsky is now 11-2-2 and has raised his save percentage to .905 and lowered his GAA to 2.95.

Of the Panthers past five wins, Bobrovsky has been in net for all of them for his longest win streak since joining the team in 2019.

In his past seven games, Bobrovsky is 6-0-1.

“Chicago had several plays around the net, I thought Bobrovsky was very quick and closed it quick,’’ Quenneville said.

“He was finding pucks, looked really solid, really sharp. Continued to do what he has to do which is be consistent and give us a chance to win every night.”

Chicago Blackhawks at Florida Panthers 

  • When: Monday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: BB&T Center, Sunrise
  • Tickets: AVAILABLE HERE
  • TV/Radio: FSF/560-AM
  • Records (standings): Florida 18-5-4, 40 points (T-2nd in Central); Chicago 14-10-5, 33 points (4th)
  • All-time series: Chicago leads 25-14-3 (2 ties)
  • Season series: Florida leads 3-0
  • Last season: Tied 1-1
  • Up next: Nashville at Florida, Thursday, 7
  • Previous game: Panthers 4, Blackhawks 2
  • Panthers This Week — Monday: Chicago at Florida, 7; Thursday: Nashville at Florida, 7; Saturday: Nashville at Florida, 2; Sunday: Florida at Tampa Bay, 4.

PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS LINES

FLORIDA FORWARDS

91 Anthony Duclair — 16 Sasha Barkov — 23 Carter Verhaeghe

11 Jonathan Huberdeau — 21 Alex Wennberg — 70 Patric Hornqvist

77 Frank Vatrano — 27 Eetu Luostarinen — 74 Owen Tippett

19 Mason Marchment — 83 Juho Lammikko — 55 Noel Acciari

FLORIDA DEFENSEMEN

52 MacKenzie Weegar — 5 Aaron Ekblad

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42 Gustav Forsling — 7 Radko Gudas

3 Keith Yandle — 6 Anton Stralman

FLORIDA GOALIES

72 Sergei Bobrovsky

60 Chris Driedger

Scratches: F Vinnie Hinostroza, F Ryan Lomberg, D Markus Nutivaara

Injured: D Noah Juulsen (upper body)

Taxi squad: D Kevin Connauton, D Riley Stillman, F Grigori Denisenko, F Brett Connolly, G Philippe Desrosiers

Florida power play (21/82 25.6% — 8th in NHL)

Florida penalty kill (63/80 78.8% — 16th in NHL)

PP1: Sasha Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Patric Hornqvist, Aaron Ekblad, Keith Yandle

PP2: Alex Wennberg, Frank Vatrano, Anthony Duclair, Carter Verhaeghe, Gustav Forsling

PROJECTED CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS LINES

CHICAGO FORWARDS

12 Alex DeBrincat — 24 Pius Suter — 88 Patrick Kane

8 Dominic Kubalik — 64 David Kampf — 38 Brandon Hagel

13 Mattias Janmark — 34 Carl Soderberg — 23 Philipp Kurashev

36 Matthew Highmore — 71 Lucas Wallmark — 22 Ryan Carpenter

CHICAGO DEFENSEMEN

2 Duncan Keith — 27 Adam Boqvist

44 Calvin De Haan — 5 Connor Murphy

16 Nikita Zadorov — 74 Nicolas Beaudin

CHICAGO GOALIES

32 Kevin Lankinen

30 Malcolm Subban

Chicago power play (26/88 29.6% — 3rd in NHL)

Chicago penalty kill (67/90 74.4% — 24th in NHL)

PP1: Ryan Carpenter, Carl Soderberg, Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat, Adam Boqvist

PP2: Mattias Janmark, Pius Sutter, Philipp Kurashev, Duncan Keith, Dominik Kubalik

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Dale Huber

Huberdeau has been a little quite lately. I expect he is due for big night.

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