Florida Panthers Visit Colorado Avalanche: Game 45 Preview

SUNRISE FL - DECEMBER 7: Stephen Weiss #9 looks over to the boards as Dennis Wideman #6 of the Florida Panthers loses the puck to Tomas Fleischmann #14 of the Colorado Avalanche on December 7 2010 at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise Florida. The Panthers defeated the Avalanche 4-3 in overtime. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

Florida has gone 5-6-5 in their past 16 games. If they want to make a dent in the playoffs, five wins every 16 games will land them on the outside looking in. Can they maintain their thin lead in the Southeast Division over the surging Washington Capitals?

Florida will be visiting the Colorado Avalanche tonight at the Pepsi Center in Denver. This is the only meeting this season between the two in a rematch of the 1996 Stanley Cup Championship. Florida is 10-9-3 on the road, while Colorado owns a 13-11-0 home record. For Florida, this is the first game of a difficult three game roadtrip. They go on to play the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday and the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday before returning home to face the Philadelphia Flyers just before the All-Star break. Colorado is coming off a three game road trip where they posted a 1-1-1 record. After facing the Panthers, they will be headed back out on the road to face the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday and the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday.

The teams last met on December 7th, 2010, with Florida taking a 4-3 overtime decision in Sunrise. Stephen Weiss led the Panthers with two goals, including the overtime game winner for his seventh of the season. David Booth also scored a goal and an assist on the night. Tomas Vokoun stopped 22 of 25 shots in the Florida victory. Avalanche goaltender Craig Anderson allowed four goals on 25 shots for Colorado.

Avalanche @ Panthers 12/7/10 (via NHLVideo)

In Florida's last game, the Panthers dropped an overtime matchup to the defending NHL Champion Boston Bruins, 3-2 on Monday night. Jason Garrison scored his 12th goal of the season to lead all NHL defensemen. Stephen Weiss added a shootout goal and his Florida Panthers record 232nd career assist in the loss. Scott Clemmensen allowed two goals on 35 shots in the Florida loss. Patrice Bergeron scored both of Boston's goals in regulation and added another in the shootout, while goaltender Tukka Rask stopped 38 of 40 shots for the win, not including 3 of 4 saves in the shootout.

Bruins @ Panthers 01/16/12 (via NHLVideo)


The Avalanche were routed, 6-1 by the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday. Boyd Gordon and Shane Doan each notched two goals for the Coyotes, while goaltender Mike Smith stopped 38 of 39 shots to earn the victory. Colorado goaltender Semyon Varlamov allowed all six goals on 33 shots, while Chuck Kobasew scored the lone Avalanche goal.

Avalanche @ Coyotes 01/16/12 (via NHLVideo)


Season Series: 0-0-0

All-Time Series: 9-13-4

Game Time: 9:30 EST

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Standings:

Florida Panthers: 21-14-9, 51 points, first Southeast Division, third Eastern Conference, 13th NHL, on pace for 95 points.

Colorado Avalanche: 24-21-2, 50 points, third Northwest Division, ninth Western Conference, 17th NHL, on pace for 87 points.

Injuries:


Florida Panthers Injuries

Doubtful

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Ed Jovanovski hand 01/17/2012

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Sean Bergenheim other-excused 12/19/2011
Jose Theodore knee 01/01/2012
Marco Sturm head 12/21/2011
Scottie Upshall other-excused 11/11/2011
Jack Skille shoulder 12/17/2011
Jacob Markstrom knee 01/08/2012


Colorado Avalanche Injuries

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Shane O`Brien knee 01/08/2012
Matt Duchene knee 12/30/2011


Starting Lineups:

Goalies: Jose Theodore (14-8-4) will be available for tonight's matchup. Scott Clemmensen (5-2-4) is the probable backup.

Forwards:

1. Fleischmann - Weiss - Versteeg

2. Kopecky - Goc - Samuelsson

3. Matthias - Madden - Repik

4. Bradley - Santorelli - Barch

Defense:

1. Campbell - Garrison

2. Ellerby - Gudbranson

3. Kulikov - Weaver

Common Thread:

Florida's first line left winger Tomas Fleischmann played in 22 games for the Avalanche last seasons, notching eight goals and 13 assists with a minus-one rating and eight penalty minutes.

Florida's probable starting goaltender, Jose Theodore played three seasons with the Avalanche, posting a 42-39-5 record, including three shutouts, with a .902 save percentage and a 2.76 GAA.

Team Milestones:

Games: Fresh off becoming the Florida Panthers all-time leader with 232 assists, Stephen Weiss will play his 600th game tonight.

Goals: With one more goal, Jason Garrison will move into the Panthers top fifty, with 20. Shawn Matthias' next goal will give him 24, moving him into a tie in 46th with Dave Gagner. Mike Santorelli's next goal will be number 26 as a Panther, moving him past Mike Van Ryn into 44th place all-time.

Assists: Dmitry Kulikov's next assist will give him 51 for his career, moving him past Niklas Hagman into 38th place.

Points: One more point for Kulikov will give him 64, moving him into a tie with Joe Nieuwendyk in 46th place.

Team Leaders:

Goals:

Kris Versteeg - 17

Tomas Fleischmann - 15

Jason Garrison - 12

Stephen Weiss - 11

Assists:

Brian Campbell - 30

Stephen Weiss - 23

Kris Versteeg - 22

Tomas Fleischmann - 19

Points:

Kris Versteeg - 39

Tomas Fleischmann, Stephen Weiss - 34

Brian Campbell - 33

Plus/Minus

Stephen Weiss - plus-12

Kris Versteeg - plus-nine

Jason Garrison - plus-six

Tomas Fleischmann - plus-three

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