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GAME STORY: Oilers 4, Panthers 2

Ty Rattie had a goal and an assist and Connor McDavid picked up three points to lead the Oilers to a 4-2 win over the Panthers in Florida on Saturday afternoon

by Marc Ciampa / EdmontonOilers.com

SUNRISE, FL - Two goals early in the third period proved to be the difference as the Oilers rallied to defeat the Panthers 4-2 at BB&T Center on Saturday afternoon. 

Connor McDavid had a goal and two assists while his linemate, Ty Rattie, registered his first two points as an Oiler in the form of a goal and an assist and was +3. 

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The Oilers conclude this back-to-back in Tampa versus the Lightning. Game time is 3 p.m. MDT and can be seen on Sportsnet West or heard on 630 CHED and the Oilers Radio Network.

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The Oilers trailed 2-1 going into the third period but only took 38 seconds to get back on even terms. Connor McDavid spun and wired a shot high high from the left faceoff circle through two Panthers skaters to tie it.

Less than six minutes later, Adam Larsson's centring pass from the right side boards went off the stick of Luongo and in to move the Oilers into the lead. Panthers did a coaches challenge for goaltender interference but it was not overturned and suddenly it was 3-2 Oilers.

"Getting one at any point in the third was going to be essential so the earlier we could gain a little bit of momentum (the better)," noted Oilers head coach Todd McLellan after the game. 

Draisaitl got called for cross-checking Vatrano with less than eight minutes to play in the third. It was Florida's sixth power play of the game to Edmonton's one but for the sixth time, Oilers were able to kill it off. McLellan noted that it was tough for the visitors to gain any momentum due to the constant trips to the penalty box. 

"Not having a lot of shots after two periods was a byproduct of how well they checked but also how often we went to the penalty box," he said. "We never gained any momentum offensively. We had to kill and kill and it usually takes you 30 seconds to a minute to recover from a penalty kill and get your lines all organized again. I didn't think we gave ourselves a chance early in the game yet the kill did a phenomenal job. Cam was excellent on it and it was probably the difference."

McLellan added that the improvement in special teams is a big reason why the Oilers are now 7-4-1 in their last 13. 

"Special teams have been better. We've won games on the power play. The penalty kill again tonight is evident. I think Talbs has settled in. He's a calming influence. Tonight he was that. When we got jumping around or were out of position, he got to make some tremendous saves and got us whistles when we needed them to get fresh guys on the ice."

With 49 seconds to play, Rattie added an empty-net goal to clinch the outcome at 4-2. Rattie's goal and assist were his first two points as an Oiler. McLellan was very impressed with how he played on the top line with McDavid and Nugent-Hopkins head-to-head with Sasha Barkov's unit. 

Video: McDavid leads Oilers to 4-2 win against Panthers

"I thought Ty played an excellent game," McLellan remarked. "He took advantage of the opportunity that was presented to him and played with two really good players who also had really good games. That line was a force, not only because they scored goals but the line that they played against has been a dominant line in the League for quite a chunk of time this season. Barkov is as good as they come. To outscore and beat that line was a tough feat and they did it."

Rattie said he made the most of his opportunity. 

"When you're on the line I was on you get a little boost. You want to play on their level and help them out as much as you can. I appreciate the confidence the coach gave me. It helped me (today) and it was a big win."

Video: POST-GAME RAW | Ty Rattie

Eight minutes into the game, Micheal Haley crushed Zack Kassian into the boards near the penalty box. Kassian was shaken up on the play and had to be helped off the ice. He did not return until the second period. 

Jujhar Khaira then dropped the gloves on Haley. Neither combatant was knocked to the ground. Haley received two minutes for interference on his Kassian hit, giving the Oilers the first power play of the game. McLellan was impressed with how Khaira stepped up for his teammate. 

"Most of it is because of how he plays but it's also because of what a good teammate he is. He stepped in real quick and took care of a teammate and showed everyone else that he cares. I've been so impressed with his ability to manage situations on the ice," McLellan said. "Not only check but provide offence. He's really come a long way as a player." 

Luongo made a pair of tough stops late in the first, one on Rattie's blast from the top of the right circle and another on Larsson's slapper from the high slot to keep the game scoreless with 29 seconds to go in the first. 

After one, shots on goal were 16-10 for the Panthers. 

Lucic got sent to the box early in the second period to give the Panthers their second power play of the game but Oilers were able to kill it off without consequence. 

Panthers got on the board, making it 1-0 8:02 into the second stanza. Frank Vatrano beat Talbot to the Oilers blueline in a race for the puck and then simply had to put the puck into the open net with the Oilers netminder down and out.

"About halfway out there," Talbot chuckled when asked when he realized he might be in trouble. "The puck seemed to die and I just misred the speed of the puck. It was pure desperation and I just didn't have the wheels. Take way as much of the ice as I could but he pulled it around me."

Video: POST-GAME RAW | Cam Talbot

Lucic received his second penalty of the game just past the period's midway point but only 28 seconds into the Panthers power play, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins wristed a shot from the left circle that handcuffed Luongo, tying the game at 1-1 with a shorthanded marker. Ironically, the goal tied the Oilers with the Panthers for the most shorthanded in the NHL this season at 10.

Panthers moved back in the lead with 4:06 to go in the second as Vincent Trochek received a pass from Aleksander Barkov at the left circle and wristed it past Talbot to move the home team in front 2-1.

The end of the second period was wild with plenty of scoring chances at both ends. 

Down and out, Luongo reached out his stick to absolutely rob Anton Slepyshev of what looked to be a wide-open opportunity. Then Luongo stonewalled the Oilers at the goal line on a chance by Nugent-Hopkins on a scramble in front right after the Oilers hit the post and moments later, Talbot denied Dadonov on a breakaway as the game remained 2-1 with 1:23 to play in the second. 

After two periods, shots on goal were 30-17 for the host Panthers.

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