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Edmonton Oilers prepare for Panthers Thursday night

The Edmonton Oilers continue to try to shake one of the most puzzling trends of the NHL season.

The Oilers have allowed the first goal in 22 of their last 26 games.

“First time I’ve heard the stat. I haven’t thought about that,” goalie Mikko Koskinen said. “Hopefully, I’m gonna forget that when I walk out of here. It’s not going to get in my head.

“You can’t start thinking about stuff like that. We all know we need to have a better start.”

Koskinen is expected to start in goal Thursday against the Florida Panthers.

Read more: Reporter reflects on relationship between athletes, media after testy exchange with Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl

The Panthers, despite losing Tuesday night in Calgary, are one of the NHL’s hottest teams. They’re 8-1-1 in their last 10.

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“It shouldn’t matter who’s coming in here right now. We got our full attention on everything. You recognize your opponent. You recognize their strengths, their weaknesses, but we’ve got to worry about what we’re doing here,” said head coach Dave Tippett.

Read more: Edmonton Oilers collapse in third and lose to Senators

The Oilers are at the other end of the spectrum from the Panthers, having gone 2-10-2 since Dec. 3.

“We’re trying to stay as positive as possible. It’s tough right now because we’re not playing a lot of games. We’re not in a rhythm,” said defenceman Cody Ceci.

“I really like what I’ve seen the last couple days in practice. It’s been a really high-compete level. Hopefully, we can translate that in tomorrow’s game,” said Koskinen.

The NHL released an updated schedule Wednesday afternoon. The Oilers had nine games postponed because of COVID. The new dates are:

Feb. 8 vs. Vegas

Feb. 9 vs. Chicago

Feb. 11 vs. New York Islanders

Feb. 14 at San Jose

Feb. 15 at Los Angeles

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Feb. 17 vs. Anaheim

Feb. 19 at Winnipeg

Feb. 20 vs. Minnesota

March 7 at Calgary

Defenceman Kris Russell is available to return from injury Thursday. Forward Brendan Perlini didn’t skate after leaving practice early on Tuesday. Tippett said Perlini is not ruled out for Thursday.

630 CHED will have all the action Thursday, starting with the Face-Off Show at 5:30 p.m. The puck drops at 7 p.m.

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