OILERS 2 - PANTHERS 1 (SO)Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
scored the shootout winner and added an assist and Devan Dubnyk
made 26 saves plus stopped all four shooters in the shootout as the Edmonton Oilers defeated the Florida Panthers 2-1 at BankAtlantic Center on Friday night.
AT THE MORNING SKATESunrise, FL - With points in each of their last five games (3-0-2) the Edmonton Oilers have little time to rest on the heels of a 3-2 shootout loss in Tampa Bay as they take on the Florida Panthers at the BankAtlantic Center tonight in Sunrise.
As is customary on the second night of back-to-back games, the Oilers had a team meeting in the hotel to discuss the finer points of a Panthers squad they have not yet faced this year.
The Panthers lead the Southeast Division, a fact not lost on head coach Tom Renney who has to ensure his crew is well-prepared heading in.
"They work very hard. The six guys we'll face tonight (on defence) have 106 assists between them. Obviously one guy (Brian Campbell) has 43 of them," said Renney. "That's something we have to pay attention to, especially when it comes to getting in on them and not giving them room to skate to make those plays and join the attack."
The forwards on Florida are also dangerous, noted the bench boss.
"They also have some balance. They've got one line that does some scoring but the rest of their lineup scores as well," he continued. "This is a team we need to play a deliberate game with. We've got to go after them, check them hard, try not to allow their defencemen to be a part of the attack and we should be fine."
Up front, the Oilers are expected to go with the same lines as were used last night. On defence, Renney mentioned that Theo Peckham will likely draw in with Andy Sutton sitting out.
"Andy Sutton won't go tonight. He's got some things bugging him that we won't elaborate on. (Peckham) is in and Dubnyk is starting in goal."
The ice last night in Tampa was terrible, to say the least. It certainly affected the game on the ice.
"Stamkos took a shot last night that was a howitzer. It was on edge when he hit it. It hit the ice and then it seemed to go that much harder after that," said Renney.
Due to the ice conditions, it became nearly impossible to make any crisp passes. That is something the team needs to be more mindful of tonight according to Renney.
"Direct pucks to the net, no question," he continued. "The humidity here in Florida is to your advantage if you use it properly but certainly chip it underneath, hard to the net, fire the puck there, go there, stand around and make life miserable for the goaltender because quite honestly those are the types of goals you're going to score."
GOING FOR 30
A win tonight for the Oilers would give them 30 wins on the season. It would be the first time the team has achieved that mark since the 2008-09 season. However, the Oilers aren't looking at the final portion of the campaign with any goals in mind.
"I don't even think we're looking at that. It's a situation where every game we approach differently. If you continue to play the same way you're going to give yourself a chance every night. We're learning on the fly how to win those tight games. It's something we've got to improve upon if we want to be a good team in this league." Gagner said.
Ryan Jones agreed.
"It's tough to say that we're putting goals like a 30-win season or anything like that. We're just trying to collect points in any game we can, whenever we can," Jones began. "It's tough to see the light at the end of the tunnel but this is all going to feed into next year. It's important to get a little bit of chemistry going, get the culture of the organization back to where you want it."
Renney noted that the team's success of late has been encouraging and does bode well for future success down the road.
"Far be it to suggest that we're stellar where we are but the guys have paid attention to the little things they need to do to have success," he said. "What I like about our team is we certainly haven't given up the team game on either side of the puck at this time."
ADDING A D PRESENCE
Renney also talked about the presence of Nick Schultz on defence and what that has added to the team since his trade deadline acquisition.
"Great acquisition I thought. Good work by our crew in recognizing something we really needed," said Renney. "You come out of the Jacques Lemaire school of how to defend and you're probably going to be pretty good.
"Nick's been very solid for us. I like the way he approaches the game as a pro. I like the way he readies himself. In the heat of the battle that's just what you need."
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com