October 29, 2014

Jaromir Jagr's march up the NHL's all-time scoring list at age 44 is a remarkable feat, something his much younger teammates appreciate even more as it helps keep Florida atop the Atlantic Division despite being short-handed recently.

The Panthers will get Aleksander Barkov and Erik Gudbranson back Thursday night, but the bad news is that Jonathan Huberdeau now is nursing his own injury.

Huberdeau will be out at least against the visiting Arizona Coyotes, whose playoff hopes are fading during a rough start to their road trip.

Barkov scored in four consecutive games and had at least a point in six straight before he was hit in the head illegally by Detroit's Justin Abdelkader in a loss Feb. 8. Gudbranson hasn't played since Feb. 4 because of an upper-body injury, and the Panthers (34-18-7) have gone just 3-3-2 since he went down.

They're both ready to return against the Coyotes (27-27-6) with Florida holding a three-point lead on Tampa Bay for the division lead thanks in part to Jagr. Jagr helped the Panthers pick up a point in a 2-1 shootout loss to San Jose last Thursday by scoring in the third period, then scored twice in Saturday's 3-1 win over Winnipeg.

Jagr moved ahead of Brett Hull for third on the NHL's scoring list with 742 goals, trailing only Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe.

''I don't really think about it. I wanted to make sure I played a little bit better (Saturday),'' Jagr said. "There's a million people who wanted to be in my position. If I can play in the NHL, why not keep going?''

Jagr's 20 goals and 43 points lead the Panthers, and Huberdeau and Jussi Jokinen have a team-high 29 assists apiece. Huberdeau, though, suffered an upper-body injury after going into the boards awkwardly against the Jets, and he'll have to sit out at least one game.

Not having the 22-year-old standout could be a blow, but Roberto Luongo hopes Florida won't have to score much anyway. He made 29 saves to beat Winnipeg after allowing at least three goals in each of his previous five starts, and he wasn't given the start in two straight before being back in net Saturday.

Luongo made 32 saves in Florida's 2-1 win over Arizona in the last matchup Oct. 30, 2014, to help the Panthers end a four-game losing streak in the series, and he'll be in goal again for this one.

''I wasn't happy obviously with my last few starts,'' Luongo said. ''Put in a good week of work. Usually it gets you over the hump and I felt good in the game. I felt sharp.''

The Coyotes will try to solve Luongo and snap a three-game skid. This will be their third contest in four nights after falling 3-2 to Washington on Monday and 2-1 to Tampa Bay on Tuesday to start their five-game trip.

Arizona sits in 10th place in the Western Conference and is chasing Colorado for the last wild-card spot, but it has three games in hand on the Avalanche.

"We're running out of games here," said rookie Jordan Martinook, who had an assist against the Capitals and scored against the Lightning. "The teams that we're chasing are winning. Sometimes you can work hard but you're not getting the results. We need to come out against Florida and play as desperate as we can."

Louis Domingue was in net for both games to begin the trip. It's unclear if he'll get the start in this one.

You May Like

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)