There are plenty of ties to the Panthers within the Golden Knights organization, so there should be plenty of motivation from the likes of Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, Brandon Pirri, Gerard Gallant, etc.
However, the Panthers are also coming off a disappointing 4-1 loss to the Predators and have every intention of coming up with a similar bounce-back effort. Florida (20-21-8) sits 11 points out of the second wildcard slot in the Eastern Conference, so every point is crucial.
That’s partly why the Panthers made a substantial trade yesterday that sent forwards Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann to Pittsburgh in exchange for Derick Brassard, Riley Sheahan and multiple draft picks. Both players will make their Panthers debut this evening, with Brassard skating on the second line with Jonathan Huberdeau and Vincent Trocheck and Sheahan centering the fourth line.
Update: The Knights will keep Valentin Zykov on the top line, with Reilly Smith starting the game on the third line; Marc-Andre Fleury will be in the crease tonight as he goes up against James Reimer.
Here are the projected lineups for both clubs:
Marchessault — Karlsson — Zykov
Pacioretty — Stastny — Tuch
Pirri — Eakin — Smith
Nosek — Bellemare — Reaves
McNabb — Schmidt
Theodore — Engelland
Merrill — Miller
Vatrano (#72) — Barkov (#16) — Dadonov (#63)
Huberdeau (#11) — Trocheck (#21) — Brassard
Hoffman (#68) — Borgstrom (#95) — Malgin (#62)
Hawryluk (#8) — Sheahan — Sceviour (#7)
Yandle (#3) — Ekblad (#5)
Matheson (#19) — Pysyk (#13)
Weegar (#52) — Brown