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Florida Panthers vs. St. Louis Blues: Game Preview

Thursday night, the Florida Panthers conclude their short road trip with a game in St. Louis.

The Florida Panthers will be taking the ice in St. Louis for their only game this season against the Blues. The Cats are the NHL's "road warriors," with a league leading seven road wins to their credit. Meanwhile, St. Louis isn't exactly a pushover at home, boasting a 6-1-1 record in their friendly confines. The Panthers will follow up with a four game homestand while the Blues will take a short road trip to play the Wild in Minnesota on Saturday.

The teams last met in February, with St. Louis dispatching the cellar dwelling Panthers 2-1. Dennis Wideman had the only marker for the game, assisted by Stephen Weiss and Michael FrolikTomas Vokoun stopped 26 of 28 shots for Florida in the losing effort.

In their last game, Florida annihilated the Dallas Stars in Dallas 6-0 with goals from six different skaters and a 25 save shutout from backup goaltender Scott Clemmensen. The Blues took it to the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 with markers from Matt D'Agostini and Alex Steen. Brian Elliott made 21 of 22 saves, allowing only a first period goal to the Wings.

Kris Stewart will serve the first game of a three game suspension for a hit on Niklas Kronwall leveled on Tuesday.

Season Series: 0-0-0
All-Time Series: 13-7-4, advantage, St. Louis
Game Time: 8:00 PM EST


Standings

Florida Panthers: 9-5-3, 21 points, second SE Divison, seventh Eastern Conference, 12th NHL, on pace for 102 points

St. Louis Blues: 9-7-1, 19 points, fourth Central Division, ninth Western Conference, 16th NHL, on pace for 92 points

Lineup

Jack Skille and Scottie Upshall are already sitting with injuries, and Matt Bradley left the Dallas game in the first with a lower body ailment.  The Cats countered by calling up Evgeny Dadonov and Tim Kennedy.  Unless Mikael Samuelsson joins the team today, expect Coach Dineen to roll out 11 forwards and seven defensemen tonight.  The Panthers have also been experimenting late in games with two forwards and three defensemen.

Probable Starters

GoaltendersScott Clemmensen takes another turn in the crease for the Cats while Jaroslav Halak gets the start for the Blues.

Forwards:

1. Fleischmann-Weiss-Versteeg 

2. Kopecky-Santorelli-Sturm

3. Bergenheim-Goc-Dadonov

Matthias, Kennedy (as needed)

 Defense:

1. Campbell-Garrison

2. Jovanovski-Gudbranson/Ellerby

3. Kulikov-Weaver

Common Thread:

Mike Weaver played 135 games over two seasons for the Blues, scoring one goal, 16 assists, a plus-seven and 41 PIM.

Team Milestones:

With one more goal, Ed Jovanovski will move past Joe Nieuwendyk into a tie for 32nd on the all-time list with Brian Skrudland, with 32.  One more assist will give Jovanovski 58, into a tie for 30th with Paul Laus.

One more assist will move Dmitry Kulikov into 41st all-time, tied with Ruslan Salei, with 46.

Team Leaders:

Goals:

Kris Versteeg - 9

Jason Garrison, Tomas Fleischmann - 7

Assists:

Brian Campbell - 16

Dmitry Kulikov - 12

Kris Versteeg - 11

Points:

Kris Versteeg - 20

Tomas Fleischmann, Brian Campbell - 17

Plus/Minus:

Tomas Fleischmann- plus-13

Stephen Weiss, Kris Versteeg - plus-11

Photographs by cstreet.us, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.