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Oilers, Panthers each chasing third straight win

by Derek Van Diest

EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers each will be vying for a third consecutive win when they meet Thursday at Rexall Place.

"It is three wins if we can get it [Thursday], but it's just another game that we have to concentrate on getting points," Oilers captain Andrew Ference said. "We dug ourselves into a hole and we want to get points to try and get out of it.

"We want to continue playing the game the right way and get into better habits. We've done a good job of that in our last game. It was a very solid game systems-wise and defensive-wise. But we can’t be overly excited about getting all those goals in our last game, really, we just have to return to the solid play that got us them."

The Oilers go into their game Thursday coming off a 7-0 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday. It was Edmonton's best game of the season as they limited Columbus to 14 shots.

Prior to that they came back to beat the Calgary Flames, scoring four goals in the third period in a 4-2 victory Saturday.

The two wins had the Oilers in good spirits Thursday.

"You still have to find a way, even in the harsh times, to somehow find some excitement on the ice and have some fun with it," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "That's hard. You think that would be an easy thing to do but it's extremely hard to come to the rink when you're in a spot like we were.

"Winning breeds a lot of things. It breeds guys feeling better about themselves, they're having fun on the ice, they're executing much better."

The lightness of the mood around the Oilers was represented during the morning skate Thursday when Ryan Smyth and Nail Yakupov swapped sticks. The Panthers did not skate Thursday.

"I wouldn't be concerned about Smyth using Nail's stick," Eakins said. "I would be concerned about Nail using Smyth's 1902 stick."

Smyth used his old-school wooden stick to score in the Oilers' win against the Blue Jackets.

Edmonton broke out in a big way that game, having gone in with two goals in its previous 15 periods at home. The Oilers were shut out three consecutive times at home during that span.

"We still have to remember where we are," Oilers forward David Perron said. "We have to try and get on a roll and keep going.

"As much we didn't want to get affected by the losses, we have to stay even-keeled by the wins also. We have to hope it keeps going like that."

The Oilers have won six games this season, with one of their victories coming on the road against the Panthers.

Florida comes in having won two straight and three of its past four. The Panthers beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 in a shootout Tuesday and defeated the Colorado Avalanche in the second game of its current five-game road trip.

Devan Dubnyk will get the start in goal for the Oilers, keeping newest acquisition Ilya Bryzgalov on the bench for the time being.

Tim Thomas is expected to get the call in goal again for the Panthers.

Here are the projected lineups for the game Thursday.


Jonathan Huberdeau - Nick Bjugstad - Tomas Fleischmann

Scottie Upshall - Aleksander Barkov - Brad Boyes

Tomas Kopecky - Marcel Goc - Jesse Winchester

Jimmy Hayes - Shawn Matthias - Krys Barch

Tom Gilbert - Brian Campbell

Mike Mottau - Erik Gudbranson

Dmitry Kulikov - Matt Gilroy

Tim Thomas

Scott Clemmensen

Scratched: Scott Gomez, Sean Bergenheim

Injured: Ed Jovanovski (hip), Mike Weaver (illness)


Taylor Hall - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle

Nail Yakupov - Sam Gagner - Ales Hemsky

David Perron - Boyd Gordon - Ryan Smyth

Jesse Joensuu - Will Acton - Luke Gazdic

Andrew Ference - Jeff Petry

Anton Belov - Justin Schultz

Nick Schultz - Corey Potter

Devan Dubnyk

Ilya Bryzgalov

Scratched: Mark Arcobello, Ryan Jones

Injured: Philip Larsen (back)

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