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Preview: Oilers at Panthers

Florida returns home following 5-0-0 road trip; Edmonton without defenseman Adam Larsson

by Alain Poupart / Correspondent

OILERS (32-20-8) at PANTHERS (28-20-10)

7:30 p.m. ET; SN, FS-F, NHL.TV


Oilers team scope

Defenseman Adam Larsson will not play for the Edmonton Oilers because of a lower-body injury sustained in the third period of a 4-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday. Larsson averages 20:16 of ice time and is second on the Oilers behind center Connor McDavid with a plus-14 rating. The Oilers, who had won three in a row before the loss, are tied for second in the Pacific Division with the Anaheim Ducks with 72 points and have a game in hand. "I've been trying to pound this into the players' heads, there's no such thing as comfort in the League," coach Todd McLellan said in comments tweeted by the Oilers. "We need some players to pick it up a little bit and perform at a higher level." This is the third game in Edmonton's season-long six-game road trip; the Oilers will also visit the Washington Capitals, Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues.


Panthers team scope

Goalie James Reimer will make his fifth start in eight games when the Panthers return to BB&T Center following the first 5-0-0 road trip in franchise history. Reimer made 26 saves Monday when the Panthers ended the road trip with a 4-1 victory against the St. Louis Blues. He is 8-1-1 in his last 11 appearances with a 2.01 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage. "Reimer has been unbelievable," coach Tom Rowe said. "You can't say enough about him. Both him and (Roberto Luongo) have been incredible. Every night they're in there, we have a chance to win. That's the beauty of having elite goaltenders like we have." The Panthers are tied with the Boston Bruins for the second wild card position in the Eastern Conference with 66 points and have a game in hand. "Not to get too ahead of ourselves, but you can see how a huge road trip like that just puts us back in the mix," said captain Derek MacKenzie, who thought before the trip that the Panthers' season was on the line. "We didn't really have a choice in a lot of ways. You can't get lucky to do what we did in those give games. We came up with a pretty good effort in those 11 days." The Panthers are 1-3-0 with five goals this season in the first game following a road trip of at least four games.


Oilers projected lineup

Patrick Maroon -- Connor McDavid -- Jordan Eberle

Milan Lucic -- Leon Draisaitl -- Anton Slepyshev

Drake Caggiula -- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins -- Zack Kassian

Matt Hendricks -- Mark Letestu -- Iiro Pakarinen

Oscar Klefbom -- Eric Gryba

Andrej Sekera -- Kris Russell

Matt Benning -- Brandon Davidson

Cam Talbot

Laurent Brossoit

Scratched: Jujhar Khaira

Injured: Adam Larsson (lower body), Benoit Pouliot (undisclosed), Darnell Nurse (lower body), Tyler Pitlick (torn ACL)


Panthers projected lineup

Jonathan Huberdeau -- Aleksander Barkov -- Jaromir Jagr

Jussi Jokinen -- Vincent Trocheck -- Reilly Smith

Jonathan Marchessault -- Michael Sgarbossa -- Nick Bjugstad

Shawn Thornton -- Derek MacKenzie -- Colton Sceviour

Keith Yandle -- Aaron Ekblad

Mark Pysyk -- Alex Petrovic

Michael Matheson -- Jason Demers

James Reimer

Roberto Luongo

Scratched: Jakub Kindl, Greg McKegg

Injured: None


Status report

Russell played 20:33 against Tampa Bay in his return after missing five games because of a groin injury. … Talbot, who started 10 consecutive games before Brossoit started against Tampa Bay, is expected to be in net.


Who's hot

McDavid, who leads the NHL in scoring with 67 points, has two goals and five assists in the past five games. … Klefbom has two goals and three assists in the past four games. … Pakarinen has a goal and two assists in his first four games of the season. … Barkov and Huberdeau each have eight points in seven games since returning to the lineup Feb. 3. … Trocheck has tied the longest point streak of his career with points in six straight games (three goals, five assists) … Jokinen has five goals in the past nine games after scoring four in his first 39.

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