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GAME CHANGER: Russell's snipe

Defenceman Kris Russell was a game changer with his third-period snipe against the Florida Panthers

by Paul Gazzola /

It was his first goal of the season and it proved to be a game changer.

Oilers defenceman Kris Russell provided the Oilers with their 33rd win of the 2016-17 campaign with his third-period snipe against the Florida Panthers, ending the Panther's five-game winning streak with a 4-3 Edmonton victory.

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"They're a team that transitions the puck better than most and they play and can make plays," Russell said post-game. "They're a talented group and they're playing well right now so I thought we really answered the bell."

Video: EDM@FLA: Russell finishes tic-tac-toe passing play

A night prior, Edmonton was handed a 4-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, reaffirming their need to right the ship with a win in The Sunshine State.

"These guys have been rolling as of late, so we knew we had to come in and try to get off to a good start and that's what we did," said Oilers centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who scored his 13th goal of the season to give the Oilers a 3-2 lead. 

The game was back and forth, with the Oilers taking the lead on three separate occasions but Russell's top-shelf snipe was the difference in the end.

"We did a really good job of not letting up," Nugent-Hopkins continued. "They pushed back a lot but we found a way to get it done."

It was fitting that Russell scored the winner, as the night would see a few of the Oilers defenceman get in on the scoring. Oscar Klefbom hammered home a slap shot to give the Oilers an early lead, then Eric Gryba's point shot was tipped in front by Zack Kassian. 

On Russell's marker, the defenceman joined the rush alongside Oilers Captain Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, being fed a perfect pass which resulted in a forehand one-timer labelled for twine.

"It was a real good play by Leon," Russell said. "He slows down the play so much. I just wanted to get it off quick and get it high.

"Fortunately, it went in."

Russell's tally was his first since Feb. 11, 2016, when he was a member of the Calgary Flames. With the goal, the Oilers were able to exit BB&T Center with a win as they continued their lengthy six-game road trip.

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