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Knights host Panthers with friendly new line

Right winger Mark Stone didn't garner a point in his debut with the Vegas Golden Knights, but he has made a new friend.

The Knights will test out their new look again when they host the Florida Panthers on Thursday.

Stone -- acquired from the Ottawa Senators at the trade deadline Monday -- played on the same line as Max Pacioretty, who scored two goals in the Golden Knights' 4-1 win over the Dallas Stars on Tuesday. Center Paul Stastny had two assists while playing on that line.

"It was awesome," Stone said. "It was a slow start for myself and the team, but we came on and took over the game."

Pacioretty, who played his first 10 seasons with the Montreal Canadiens before getting traded to Vegas last September, said it felt odd to be part of a Stone line. He and Stone were once bitter rivals in the Atlantic Division.

"He's a guy I have probably battled against more than anyone in the league," Pacioretty said. "But there are no bad guys in this league. Coming into this room, the first thing we said was: 'No more battles. We're on the same side now.'

"He's a great guy. I'm looking forward to playing with him for a long time."

Vegas used multiple connections from the Panthers to help the franchise reach the Stanley Cup Finals last season in its first year of existence.

Two of Vegas' top four points-getters come from the Panthers organization -- Jon Marchessault, who is tied for the team lead with 20 goals, and Reilly Smith, who is second with 26 assists.

In addition, Knights coach Gerard Gallant and Vegas forward Brandon Pirri are former members of the Panthers organization.

While Vegas last season reaped the benefits of players cast aside by other franchises, the Panthers came up one point short of the playoffs.

This season, the Panthers are again out of playoff position but are making a late push, going 5-1-1 in their past seven games, including a 4-3 shootout loss at the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday night.

Arizona hit the post three times in the frantic final two minutes of regulation, failing to score each time, which allowed the Panthers the chance to pick up one point.

One night earlier, the Panthers won 4-3 in overtime at the Colorado Avalanche.

"I can't say enough about our guys battling and competing," Panthers coach Bob Boughner said.

Florida got goals from Mike Hoffman, Jamie McGinn and Aleksander Barkov against Arizona. Hoffman leads the Panthers with 28 goals. McGinn scored his second goal in four games after missing the first four months of the season following back surgery.

Barkov, who was named the NHL's second star of the week on Monday, has seven goals and six assists in his past six games.

Panthers goalie James Reimer was forced to leave Tuesday's game just 32 seconds into the second period due to an unspecified injury. He was replaced by Roberto Luongo, who will likely start on Thursday.

Vegas is expected to start Marc-Andre Fleury, who is 30-19-5 this season with a 2.61 goals-against average. He has won at least 30 games nine times in his career and is three victories shy of tying Jacques Plante (437) for eighth place on the NHL list for victories by a goalie.

Dealing with several short-term injuries, the Panthers recalled defenseman Riley Stillman, 20, who made his NHL debut Tuesday. His father, Cory Stillman, was a forward who won two Stanley Cups in a 17-year NHL career, playing for the Panthers from 2008 to 2011.

Riley Stillman played 11:22 in his NHL debut.

--Field Level Media

Updated February 27, 2019

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