Panthers-Jets Preview

Dale Tallon's mission to improve the Florida Panthers prior to the trade deadline resulted in a flurry of deals he hopes will bolster their chances of winning their first playoff series in 20 years.

Fending off three other suitors for the Atlantic Division crown remains the top priority for now, though.

The Panthers have dropped two in a row to begin a five-game trip heading into Tuesday night's contest in Winnipeg, where the Jets have handled them easily during their last five visits.

Tallon hit the phones hard Saturday and dealt four draft picks to acquire Jiri Hudler from Calgary, fellow forward Teddy Purcell from Edmonton and defenseman Jakub Kindl from Detroit. The only move he made Monday was sending injured center Brandon Pirri to Anaheim for a sixth-round selection.

Tallon is expecting those moves to help the Panthers (35-19-8) in their pursuit of their second division title in franchise history. Tampa Bay tied Florida atop the Atlantic with Monday's win at Toronto, with Boston sitting four points back and Detroit also very much in the race.

The eventual goal is a deep playoff run for Florida, which hasn't won a postseason series since making it to the Stanley Cup Final in 1995-96.

"I like our team once we're healthy, like what our young guys have brought to the table,'' Tallon said. "We have a lot of depth now with the acquisitions. We had a good week and we improved our club with a defenseman and two forwards."

Neither of the three were in uniform for Sunday's 3-1 loss at Minnesota that followed a 3-0-2 stretch. Hudler and Purcell still are working through visa issues, but they'll be able to play against the Jets (26-31-4) with the game being in Canada. Their statuses for Thursday's game at Colorado are unclear.

Jonathan Huberdeau hasn't played since suffering an upper-body injury Feb. 20, when Jaromir Jagr scored twice in a 3-1 win over Winnipeg for the Panthers' second straight victory in the series. Both were played in Florida, though, and the Panthers have been outscored 30-8 while losing their past five at Winnipeg.

Mathieu Perreault scored four goals in the last meeting north of the border, an 8-2 victory Jan. 13, 2015. Perreault missed practice Monday, though, due to his wife expecting the birth of their first child, and it's uncertain if he'll be with the team Tuesday.

His absence would mean another lineup change for the last-place Jets, who shipped captain Andrew Ladd to Chicago on Thursday in a deal that brought back forward Marko Dano and a first-round pick in the upcoming draft. They're also without Bryan Little, who is out for the season with a fractured vertebrae.

Dano made his team debut in Saturday's 4-1 loss at Pittsburgh. Winnipeg has dropped five of six and was quiet on deadline day following the Ladd deal.

"(Younger players need) to get into some games. They've got to make some mistakes," coach Paul Maurice said. "You've got to push them, but experience for these guys is what they need to get better."

The Jets are beginning a five-game homestand, but they've dropped four straight and nine of 11 at MTS Centre. It's unclear if Michael Hutchinson will make a third straight start or if Ondrej Pavelec will get the nod in net.

Roberto Luongo has a 1.78 goals-against average in his last four appearances, beginning with the win over the Jets last month.

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