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At the Rink: Oilers at Panthers

by Alain Poupart

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Goaltender Al Montoya will get the start Monday as the Florida Panthers look to turn their fortunes back on the right track against the Edmonton Oilers (7:30 p.m. ET; SNW, FS-F).

One week ago Monday, the Panthers were taking a 12-game winning streak into Vancouver.

But after seeing their streak snapped in an overtime loss against the Canucks, they're back home for the first time since Jan. 3 and on a three-game losing skid, including a 3-1 loss Sunday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"We played good in the third period last night, so that was a start,"���Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said. "I thought the game in Tampa was a close game. They had a good second period and got a 2-0 lead on us and the third period we played really well, we just didn't get that tying goal. We had a couple of chances. We worked hard, we played hard. I���thought it was one of our better games actually on the trip."

With Monday being the second game of a back-to-back for the Panthers, only nine Florida players took part in an optional morning skate.

One of them was Montoya, who made 24 saves in a 2-1 win at Edmonton eight days ago. He's 7-1-1 on the season with a 1.71 goals-against average and a .937 save percentage.

Expected to get the start for Edmonton is Cam Talbot, fresh off signing a three-year, $12.5 million contract extension Sunday. Talbot is coming off a 31-save performance in a 2-1 shootout victory against the Calgary Flames on Saturday.

"I���knew (about the extension)���the other night before I���played against Calgary,"���Talbot said. "Now that it's all in the open, it's great. It's a weight off my shoulders knowing that it's done and I���can just focus on playing hockey. I���was just excited to get it done so early in the season and grateful that they wanted to talk this early and not drag it out. Gotta thank the organization for putting faith in me and giving me this opportunity."

The Oilers, in the middle of a stretch of five of six games on the road, have won their past six games at BB&T���Center, the past five in overtime or a shootout. Edmonton will come into the game Monday having played eight consecutive one-goal games.

Edmonton will also have forward Matt Hendricks back from a three-game suspension he received for a hit on Florida defenseman Aaron Ekblad in that Jan. 10 game. Ekblad, injured on the play, is still out.

The Oilers were 1-0-2 during Hendricks' absence with shootout losses against the Arizona Coyotes and San Jose Sharks followed by the shootout win against the Flames at Rexall Place.

"The team got four out of six points in my absence, so they're playing well,"���Hendricks said. "I'll just look to add a little energy tonight, a little defensive responsibility, a little help on the penalty kill and play my game, try to help this team keep climbing here."

The Panthers, who are beginning a four-game homestand that continues Friday against the Chicago Blackhawks, will be looking to avoid a third consecutive regulation loss for the first time this season.

Here are the projected lines:


Taylor Hall - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Iiro Pakarinen

Benoit Pouliot - Leon Draisaitl - Jordan Eberle

Teddy Purcell - Matt Hendricks - Zack Kassian

Nail YakupovMark Letestu - Luke Gazdic

Andrej Sekera - Mark Fayne

Darnell Nurse - Justin Schultz

Brandon Davidson - Eric Gryba

Cam Talbot

Anders Nilsson

Injured: Lauri Korpikoski (foot), Oscar Klefbom (undisclosed), Connor McDavid (clavicle)

Scratched: Brad Hunt, Anton Lander


Jonathan Huberdeau - Aleksander Barkov - Jaromir Jagr

Jussi Jokinen - Vincent Trocheck - Reilly Smith

Brandon Pirri - Nick Bjugstad - Logan Shaw

Corban Knight - Derek MacKenzie - Shawn Thornton

Brian Campbell - Erik Gudbranson

Dmitry Kulikov - Steven Kampfer

Willie Mitchell - Alex Petrovic

Al Montoya

Roberto Luongo

Injured: Aaron Ekblad (upper body), Dave Bolland (lower body)

Scratched:���������Quinton Howden

Status report: Gallant said he was hoping Ekblad would be able to return for the Panthers on Friday against Chicago. … Oilers coach Todd McLellan said Korpikoski likely would miss the game Tuesday against Tampa Bay but was hoping he would return Thursday against the Dallas Stars.

Who's hot: Montoya has allowed one goal in each of his past five starts. … Jagr has 40 points in 35 games against Edmonton. … Talbot hasn't allowed more than two goals in any of his past three starts. … Edmonton killed off all nine penalties in its past two games.

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