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Driedger will get the opening-night start in net for Florida

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SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Chris Driedger will be Florida’s starting goaltender when the Panthers play their delayed season-opener Sunday night against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Driedger becomes the 11th opening-night starter in Panthers history. Regular starter Sergei Bobrovsky, who missed most of Panthers’ training camp, is in line to start Florida’s second game against Chicago on Tuesday.

Driedger went 7-2-1 for Florida last season, starting 11 of his 12 appearances.

“He had a great run for us,” Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said. “He did a great job of giving us a chance. The guys got a little bit familiar with him around the net. I thought he had some poise, some patience ... he kept the game very simple.”

Sam Montembeault will be the backup for Florida on Sunday, Quenneville said. Bobrovsky probably could have played Sunday, but the Panthers felt it best to take a cautious approach.

“We’re doing things probably the right way, knowing he does need some time to help with his conditioning as well,” Quenneville said.

The Panthers will become the next-to-last NHL team to open the season. They were supposed to open Thursday and Friday with home games against Dallas, but the Stars could not play after a COVID-19 outbreak among players and coaches.

Dallas is now scheduled to open Friday against Nashville. Some teams will have played five times before the Stars get onto the ice this season.

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