The Oilers fly to Arizona where they will play the Coyotes Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. MST. The game can be seen on Sportsnet and heard on 630 CHED and the Oilers Radio Network.
EDMONTON, AB – The Oilers held the surging Panthers to 14 shots on goal but could not net the equalizer, falling 2-1 to Florida who has won 12 straight.
Early in the first, it appeared as though Oilers forward Taylor Hall scored tied the game at 1-1, but the celebration was short-lived after it was revoked following a coach’s challenge by Florida’s Gerard Gallant.
As the Oilers advanced, Leon Draisaitl drove to the Panthers end, pulled back and delivered the puck to Hall’s stick, who snapped a wicked shot into the net. Upon further review, it was ruled offside and the goal was waved off.
The Panthers were leading four minutes into the game after Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse was stripped by Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr, who advanced on a breakaway and tapped a soft shot between the pads of Cam Talbot.
“We had a pretty bad first period in terms of we didn’t give up a lot but when we did give something up it was a grade-A chance and they capitalized on two of them,” said Oilers forward Matt Hendricks.
“It could have easily been three or 4-1 without Cam making some big saves. After that it was a physical game. That team has a lot of pride over there, they work hard, they play hard and that’s what this league’s all about.”
Three minutes after the Oilers were denied their equalizer, Florida forward Jonathan Huberdeau gave the Panthers a 2-0 lead.
Moments following, Oilers blueliner Eric Gryba levelled a big hit on Panthers centre Corban Knight, alongside the Panthers bench. Nick Bjugstad retaliated, getting the extra two for instigating, along with five for fighting and a 10-minute misconduct.
At the 7:28 mark, after a scuffle behind the Panthers net, Hendricks moved the puck off the board to teammate Lauri Korpikoski who tipped it in front of the crease. Mark Letestu put Edmonton within one, scoring his sixth goal of the season.
“We knew, with this winning streak, they hadn’t been giving up much. They’d been defending well, playing good goaltending — especially when you win 12 in a row — a lot of things are going well,” said Letestu.
“So to get the one taken back, it’s tough, certainly tough. It’s going to get tough like this the rest of the way as things get close to the playoffs, the intensity goes up, teams continue to play tight checking, this is what we have to expect every night. We’re going to have to work and earn every goal we get.”
Shots on goal after one period were just 5-4 for the Panthers.
Trailing 2-1, the Oilers started to push back in the second. After a lengthy shift in the Panthers zone, Oilers defenceman Brandon Davidson fired a shot just beyond the blueline but it was blocked by Panthers forward Logan Shaw.
With 6:54 left in the second, Panthers forward Reilly Smith fired off a shot but was robbed by Talbot’s glove.
Hits were taken and delivered from each team throughout much of the second. With 4:32 left in the period, Hendricks and Alex Petrovic dropped sticks and shed their gloves, scrapping and receiving fighting majors.
“I thought we were aggressive. We kept a team that had, well what do they have 12 wins now, I think we gave up 14 shots at the end of the night. Lost the game — not happy about it — but we attempted 68 at their net, I thought we answered the physical bell,” said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan.
Two minutes later, Justin Schultz took a stick to the mouth after playing the puck in the Panthers zone. Huberdeau received a double-minor penalty, but the Oilers could not capitalize.
“Our power play has to get better,” said McLellan. “Right now, with the talent we can put on the ice and the production that they get, and the 10 or 11, 12 guys you get to play on it,they have to take individual responsibility… we need production from some people and that can come on the power play. We have a couple of key people that haven’t scored for a while and when we were winning they were getting on the board.”
Shots in the second period were 14-2 for Edmonton.
The Oilers continued to push into Florida’s zone. Midway through the frame Teddy Purcell fired off a shot that went just wide of Al Montoya’s pads. Talbot retreated to the bench at the 1:50 mark.
A lengthy battle played out with 50 seconds left in the period. Nurse dumped the puck in front of Montoya’s net that reflected off of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ stick but Montoya was able to deny the reflection.
Edmonton could not draw even with the Panthers, despite outshooting them 25-14. The Oilers will now hit the road to play in Arizona on Tuesday.