SUNRISE, FL - Kris Russell's first goal of the season proved to be the winner in a 4-3 battle with the Florida Panthers.
Coming into the game, five of Edmonton's last six trips to Sunrise had gone beyond regulation. It appeared as though things might head in that direction again with it being a tight affair throughout. However, the late goal from Russell proved to be the difference.
The Oilers are the first team to hand Florida a regulation loss since February 9. They were 5-0-0 in their previous five games and 8-1-1 in their previous 10.
"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. "It kind of built from there. We did a really good job of not letting up. They pushed back a lot, but we found a way to get it done."
Edmonton fired the first shot in what was a back-and-forth night.
Oilers defenceman Oscar Klefbom continued his recent offensive success, hammering a slap shot from the point past James Reimer at 5:18 of the first. The goal capitalized on a failed clearing attempt by the Panthers.
Klefbom is having a career year offensively, with that goal being his 11th of the season. The blueliner now has three goals and three assists in his last five games. It was a bit of redemption for Klefbom, who saw his 11th goal taken away from him last night in Tampa by an offside challenge.
The Oilers had an opportunity to make it a two-goal game with 8:42 left in the first, but Reimer made a great save. Connor McDavid stole the puck at the Oilers blueline and came down the ice with Leon Draisaitl keeping stride. McDavid passed it to Draisaitl backdoor, but Reimer stuck the pad out and stopped his shot.
A scuffle at the end of the first ultimately led to a Panthers power play. It took just 21 seconds into the second frame for them to net the equalizer. Alexsander Barkov scored his 15th of the season to make it a 1-1 game.
Eric Gryba's shot was tipped by Zack Kassian in front for Edmonton to make it a 2-1 game at 10:26 of the second.
Colton Sceviour scored from the slot at 15:53 of the second to tie the game once again, at 2-2.
Nugent-Hopkins made it 3-2 when he got greasy in front of the net and buried a loose puck at 18:59 of the second.
The Panthers responded, however, and potted another power-play goal, this time with just four seconds remaining in the middle frame. Jonathan Marchessault snuck behind the Oilers penalty kill and buried his 18th of the season.
Once again, a defenceman came through for the Oilers. A streaking McDavid passed the puck to Draisaitl, who set up a trailing Russell for his first goal of the season, the game-winner, at 12:02 of the third.
Next up for Edmonton is a game against the Capitals in Washington D.C. on Friday night.