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Oilers, Panthers square off in need of a win

by Brian Hunter

OILERS (3-10-2) at PANTHERS (3-8-3)


Last 10: Edmonton 2-7-1; Florida 2-5-3

Season series: This is the first of two meetings between the Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers. In their most recent matchup March 23, 2012, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored in the fourth round of a shootout to lift the Oilers to a 2-1 road win.

Big story: Each team enters on a five-game losing streak and in dire need of the positive feelings that come with a winning effort.

Team Scope:

Oilers: This is the start of a four-game road trip for Edmonton, which went 2-3-1 on a six-game swing in October. The finale of that journey was a big 4-3 win against the Montreal Canadiens, but the Oilers haven't tasted victory since.

Preventing goals has been a concern throughout the season, but of late, scoring them has been a problem spot as well. The Oilers were shut out for the second consecutive game when they hosted the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday; their 5-0 defeat followed up a 4-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs four days earlier.

"It's tough, it was embarrassing, I have no words for it and there are no excuses for us," defenseman Ladislav Smid said. "People talk about injuries and bad luck and stuff, and we can't talk about that anymore. We all have to wake up in here. I don't think there is one person that can be proud of what he did on the ice.

"Collectively we have to wake up and start working as a team and working for each other."

Panthers: Like its opponent, Florida has had to start three different goaltenders already due to injuries and ineffectiveness. Veteran Scott Clemmensen made his first start of the season Saturday against the Washington Capitals and turned in a solid effort, stopping 21 of 23 shots in regulation and overtime in what ultimately ended up a 3-2 loss.

The Panthers fought back from a pair of one-goal deficits against the Capitals to ensure themselves of a point. Jesse Winchester continued to be a success story with his third of the season and Tomas Fleischmann scored on a power play with 2:38 left in regulation.

"What we have to do is believe that if we are going to play well, the wins are going to come," Fleischmann said. "I think we took a good step in the right direction [Saturday]. We played like a team pretty good all 60 minutes, and I think that's how we get two points next game."

Who's hot: Winchester has two goals and an assist in his past four games for the Panthers. His next goal will tie his career high for a season, set in 72 games for the Ottawa Senators in 2010-11.

Injury report: Edmonton's injury list includes defenseman Justin Schultz (groin) and Anton Belov (knee), forwards Steve MacIntyre (knee), David Perron (neck), Tyler Pitlick (knee), Jesse Joensuu (back) and Taylor Hall (knee). Ryan Smyth (groin), who hasn't played since Oct. 22, will return to the lineup. ... Florida is without goalie Tim Thomas (lower body), defenseman Ed Jovanovski (hip) and forward Steven Pinizzotto (hip).

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