Preview: Oilers at Panthers
The Edmonton Oilers look to finish their four-game road trip with a .500 record and extend their winning streak at the Florida Panthers to 10 when the teams meet Thursday night. The Oilers won the opener of their trek at Detroit before dropping back-to-back contests at Washington (4-2 on Monday) and Tampa Bay (5-2 on Tuesday), but have not lost against the Panthers on the road since March 8, 2002.
Two-time reigning NHL scoring champion Connor McDavid was held off the scoresheet for the second time in 13 games this season in Tuesday’s loss and Edmonton could not finish several prime opportunities. “We need to bear down a little bit, especially me more than anyone,” Oilers center Leon Draisaitl told reporters. “I didn’t think we played terrible or bad by any means, but it’s something we can look at and try to get better from.” The Panthers have not played since Friday, when they finished off a split with Winnipeg with a 4-2 victory in the two-game NHL Global Series at Helsinki, Finland. Forward Evgenii Dadonov leads Florida with 13 points and has at least one in eight straight games while teammate Mike Hoffman boasts a nine-game point streak that includes six goals.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, Sportsnet West (Edmonton), FS Florida
ABOUT THE OILERS (8-6-1): Ryan Nugent-Hopkins notched his third assist in two games Tuesday to push his team-leading total to 14 and Draisaitl scored his ninth goal – one behind McDavid – against the Lightning for his eighth point in the past seven contests. Right wing Ty Rattie returned to the lineup after missing nine games with an upper-body injury, skating with McDavid and Nugent-Hopkins, while center Ryan Strome finally netted his first goal of the season Tuesday. Forward Alex Chiasson, who had scored in three of his previous four games, sat out the game in Tampa Bay with an undisclosed injury.
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (3-5-3): Goalie Roberto Luongo returned to the lineup for the first time since suffering a knee injury on opening night and made 32 saves for his 472nd career victory Friday in Helsinki. “That was huge for us,” Florida coach Bob Boughner told reporters. “Watching (Luongo) play so composed after being off for a month, he is a big reason why we won (the last game).” Defenseman Keith Yandle has five points in the last four games and 12 overall to place second on the team while captain Aleksander Barkov has gone seven games without a goal, but recorded six assists in that stretch.
1. Edmonton LW Milan Lucic was fined $10,000 after his misconduct penalty Tuesday.
2. Florida C Derek MacKenzie, who has not played since opening night, underwent shoulder surgery recently and is out indefinitely.
3. The Oilers have won four of the last five meetings overall and the road team has taken seven of the last eight encounters.