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Saturday GameDay: After comeback, Panthers host Carolina Hurricanes

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Panthers Carolina Hurricanes
The Florida Panthers celebrate their come-from-behind victory over he Dallas Stars on Thursday night. // Photo by Roger Topalian, 21st Century Photography

The Florida Panthers took a well-deserved day off following their come-from-behind victory over the Dallas Stars. Now, comes another big test with the Carolina Hurricanes.

Carolina is coming out of a four-game series against Tampa Bay in which the Hurricanes won the opener then lost the final three.

The Hurricanes are coming to Sunrise one hungry team.

Florida won the first game of this eight-game season series on Feb. 17, getting a huge game from Jonathan Huberdeau including a breakaway goal in overtime to win 4-3.

The Panthers recently took two of three from Dallas including Thursday’s improbable 3-2 win where the Panthers scored two goals in a span of 52 seconds in the third period.

Frank Vatrano netted the winner with 3:10 remaining.

”There were a couple of funny bounces that didn’t go in and then we got the first one and it reminded me of that first one against them when you broke through and got a lot of momentum,” Joel Quenneville said.

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Quenneville mixed up his lines in the third period to get his sluggish team going and it ended up working out.

Quenneville said he would probably roll them out at least to start Saturday’s game.

That means Huberdeau and Sasha Barkov are a thing again.

And that usually works out for the Panthers.

”We moved some lines around because, hey, nothing is happening and we’ll see what happens here,” Quenneville said.

”I thought we had a number of lines started moving well, it gave us a little unpredictability as well, different looks. Usually you try things and you don’t get that success but maybe you figure something out for later, see a combo that you like.

“So, we’ll likely have a look at those lines moving forward.”

Quenneville will announce his goalie on Saturday but the odds are Sergei Bobrovsky’s performance Thursday gets another start.

Bobrovsky made 37 saves in the win.

With those two up, Owen Tippett went back down; Markus Nutivaara also went onto the IR with his upper-body injury but it was done retroactively so his return could be any time now.

Florida was without defenseman Radko Gudas on Thursday as he was a late scratch following warm-ups.

Quenneville said he is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. If he doesn’t go Saturday, expect Noah Juulsen to get in.

Kevin Connauton played for the first time since signing with the Panthers following training camp and got a lot of time, playing 20:26 off 28 shifts.

He was with Anton Stralman for most of it.

Carolina Hurricanes at Florida Panthers

PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS LINES

FLORIDA FORWARDS

11 Jonathan Huberdeau — 16 Sasha Barkov — 23 Carter Verhaeghe

77 Frank Vatrano — 21 Alex Wennberg — 70 Patric Hornqvist

19 Mason Marchment — 27 Eetu Luostarinen — 91 Anthony Duclair

94 Ryan Lomberg — 83 Juho Lammikko — 10 Brett Connolly

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FLORIDA DEFENSEMEN

52 MacKenzie Weegar — 5 Aaron Ekblad

44 Kevin Connauton — 6 Anton Stralman

3 Keith Yandle — 7 Radko Gudas

FLORIDA GOALIES

72 Sergei Bobrovsky

60 Chris Driedger

Scratches: F Vinnie Hinostroza, D Noah Juulsen

Injured: D Gustav Forsling (undisclosed); D Markus Nutivaara (upper body); F Noel Acciari (upper body)

Taxi squad: D Riley Stillman, F Grigori Denisenko, F Owen Tippett, G Philippe Desrosiers

Florida power play (14/53 26.4% — 8th in NHL)

Florida penalty kill (44/55 80% — 15th in NHL)

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

PP2: Alex Wennberg, Frank Vatrano, Anthony Duclair, Carter Verhaeghe, Anton Stralman

PROJECTED CAROLINA HURRICANES LINES

CAROLINA FORWARDS

37 Andrei Svechnikov — 20 Sebastian Aho — 71 Jesper Fast

21 Nino Niederreiter — 16 Vincent Trocheck — 88 Martin Necas

13 Warren Foegele — 11 Jordan Staal — 23 Brock McGinn

18 Cedric Paquette — 78 Steven Lorentz — 48 Jordan Martinook

CAROLINA DEFENSEMEN

74 Jaccob Slavin — 19 Dougie Hamilton

76 Brady Skjei — 22 Brett Pesce

4 Hayden Fluery — 24 Jake Bean

CAROLINA GOALIES

39 Alex Nedeljkovic

47 James Reimer

Carolina power play (16/62 25.8% — 9th in NHL)

Carolina penalty kill (53/66 80.3% — 14th in NHL)

PP1: Jordan Staal, Sebastian Aho, Vincent Trocheck, Dougie Hamilton, Andrei Svechnikov

PP2: Jesper Fast, Teuvo Teravainen, Nino Niederreiter, Brettt Pesce, Martin Necas

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