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game preview

Oilers at Panthers preview

Florida tries to tighten gap in Eastern Conference; Talbot looks to stay sharp for Edmonton

by Alain Poupart / Correspondent

OILERS (30-35-5) at PANTHERS (35-26-7)

2 p.m. ET; FS-F, SNW, NHL.TV


The Game

The Florida Panthers look to gain ground in the Eastern Conference wild-card race when they host the Edmonton Oilers at BB&T Center on Saturday.

The Panthers, 9-1-1 in their past 11 games and 16-4-1 in their past 21, trail the New Jersey Devils by three points for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference and are four points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the first wild card. Florida has played two fewer games than New Jersey and three fewer than Columbus.

The Oilers, 3-4-1 in their past eight games, are 19 points behind the Dallas Stars for the second wild card in the Western Conference.


Players to watch

Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot is 3-1-0 with a 1.48 goals-against average and .954 save percentage in his past four starts.

Panthers center Vincent Trocheck has eight points (three goals, five assists) in a five-game point streak.


They said it

"Throughout the whole year we wanted to find that consistency. … Lately it's been a little bit better, but we've still got to play the full 60 minutes and bring the same effort every night." -- Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

"The reason we're in a playoff race is because of what we've done at home. If you stand back and look at our home record in the last little while, you have to be happy about it. The key is going to be trying to replicate that on the road." -- Panthers coach Bob Boughner on Florida's 9-1-0 record in its past 10 home games


Oilers projected lineup

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins -- Connor McDavid -- Ty Rattie

Milan Lucic -- Leon Draisaitl -- Michael Cammalleri

Jesse Puljujarvi -- Ryan Strome -- Anton Slepyshev

Drake Caggiula -- Jujhar Khaira -- Iiro Pakarinen

Darnell Nurse -- Adam Larsson

Oscar Klefbom -- Andrej Sekera

Yohann Auvitu -- Ethan Bear

Cam Talbot

Al Montoya

Scratched: Zack Kassian

Injured: Matt Benning (illness), Kris Russell (undisclosed), Pontus Aberg (undisclosed)


Panthers projected lineup

Evgenii Dadonov -- Aleksander Barkov -- Nick Bjugstad

Jonathan Huberdeau -- Vincent Trocheck -- Frank Vatrano

Jamie McGinn -- Jared McCann -- Denis Malgin

Micheal Haley -- Derek MacKenzie -- Colton Sceviour

Keith Yandle -- Aaron Ekblad

Mike Matheson -- Mark Pysyk

Ian McCoshen -- MacKenzie Weegar

Roberto Luongo

James Reimer

Scratched: Connor Brickley, Radim Vrbata, Maxim Mamin

Injured: Alexander Petrovic (lower body)


Status report

Aberg did not practice Friday and will not play; Oilers coach Todd McLellan said Russell, who was injured blocking a shot in a 4-3 overtime loss to the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday, was very doubtful. … Petrovic, who missed a 3-0 win against the Boston Bruins on Thursday, skated Friday and will be a game-time decision.


Stat pack

Edmonton has won eight straight at BB&T Center dating to March 8, 2002. … Barkov (seven goals, 16 assists) and Dadonov (10 goals, 13 assists) each has 23 points in his past 16 games. … Florida has scored at least four goals in five of its past seven games.

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