The Edmonton Oilers love visiting South Florida. The Oilers recorded their ninth straight road win over the Florida Panthers Saturday afternoon with a 4-2 victory.
A scoreless first period was controlled by the Panthers. They had several good scoring chances but couldn’t beat Cam Talbot. One of their best opportunities came shorthanded when Jared McCann hit the crossbar.
Jujhar Khaira stepped up to fight Michael Haley with 11:50 left in the first. Haley rattled Zack Kassian into the boards with a body check that also drew an interference penalty.
“We’re just trying to focus on ourselves right now,” said captain Connor McDavid of the energetic play on the ice. “It seems like every team we play is in a desperate playoff position, and we’re trying to get up for those games…they’re all in a dogfight for the playoffs, so we’ve got to understand their intensity and match it.”
The Panthers opened the scoring 8:02 into the second period. The puck jumped over Oscar Klefbom’s stick at the offensive blue line. With Frank Vatrano in pursuit, Talbot raced out to the play the puck. However, Vatrano got there first and swooped around Talbot for an easy goal. With Milan Lucic serving a roughing penalty, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins wrist shot squeaked through Roberto Luongo for the Oilers’ tenth shorthanded goal of the season. Vincent Trocheck put the Panthers back in front with 4:06 left in the period.
Still in the second, Anton Slepyshev fired a slap shot with Luongo out of position. However, the veteran goalie was able to reach back with his stick and get his paddle on the puck for an incredible save.
Connor McDavid tied it 38 seconds into the third period. Ty Rattie assisted on the play for his first point as an Oiler. Rattie explained he wanted to play with the same intensity as his line-mates.
“When you’re on the line I was on, you get a little boost. You want to play at their level and help them out as much as you can,” he said. “I appreciate the confidence the coaches gave me, and I felt good tonight.”
Less than six minutes later, Adam Larsson’s centring pass deflected in off Luongo’s stick. It was Larsson’s first goal in 28 games. Rattie scored into an empty net in the final minute.
Talbot made 40 saves. Head coach Todd McLellan was pleased at his netminder’s performance.
“He’s a calming influence, and tonight he was that. When we got jumping around in our end and were out of position, he was able to make some tremendous saves and get us whistles when we needed them to get fresh guys on the ice,” McLellan said.
“There’s a pride factor. We’re all disappointed with where we are in the season but we’re not going to roll over and play dead. We plan on playing hard and trying to get better, moving the needle in the right direction.”
Nugent-Hopkins hit the 20-goal mark for the second time in his career. McDavid had a goal and two assists. The Oilers were 6/6 on the penalty kill, boosting them to 42/45 in their last 15 games.
The Panthers lose for the first time all season (23-1) when leading after two periods.
The Oilers, 31-35-5, will visit Tampa Bay on Sunday. Get the game on 630 CHED with the Face-off Show at 1:30 p.m. The game starts at 3 p.m.