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Streaking Panthers Look to Hand Oilers First Loss at Home

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

EDMONTON - The Florida Panthers believe they're getting closer to playing a complete game.

Heading into Sunday afternoon's matchup against the Edmonton Oilers on the road at Rogers Place, the Panthers have picked up points in each of their last seven games, seemingly finding a different way to either win or claw back and secure at least one point in each of those games.

"The guys are having fun," Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said. "It's a good group. I think that no matter what the situation is in a game, outside of one game at home where we had a tough start, every game we've been in the game throughout the game. Every game's been close."

The Panthers (4-2-4) are coming off a 6-5 shootout loss in Calgary on Thursday that kicked off their four-game road trip. Trailing 4-2 early in the third period, Florida scored three quick goals to take a 5-4 lead before a very late game-tying goal from the Flames got the game to overtime.

During their point streak, the Panthers have gone 3-0-4.

"We've been stringing together some full 60-minute efforts," Panthers defenseman Mark Pysyk said. "I think before we'd have a little bit of a downfall in the second [period], and we've cleaned that up… We'd obviously like the two points, but looking back [at the streak], that's not so bad."

Pysyk, who has been playing at both forward and defense this season, was one of five different Panthers to light the lamp in Calgary, joining Jonathan Huberdeau, MacKenzie Weegar, Evgenii Dadonov and Josh Brown on a scoresheet that really highlighted Florida's flexibility on offense.

Aleksander Barkov also posted a game-high four assists in that game to push his total to 12 on the season, which is currently tied for the third-most in the NHL. Huberdeau is tied with Barkov for the team-scoring lead with 12 points, tallying at least one point in eight games this season.

Florida's roster boasts 12 different players that have already scored at least one goal.

"No matter what team we play against or whatever the score is, we can play the game," said Panthers winger Frank Vatrano, who has potted a pair of goals this season. "We know we can score a lot of goals in this room with the talent that we have. I think the biggest thing with us is to just keep that puck out of our net and not think too much offense."

The Panthers know that having a defense-first mindset will be especially important tonight.

Off to an 8-2-1 start and currently occupying first place in the Pacific Division, the Oilers boast the two top-scoring forwards in the NHL in Connor McDavid (20 points) and Leon Draisaitl (19).

Edmonton improved to a perfect 5-0-0 at home with a 4-3 overtime win against the Washington Capitals on Thursday. Climbing back from a two-goal deficit in the third period to force the extra frame, McDavid had the lone assist on Draisaitl's game-winner at 1:18 of the overtime period.

"Good teams have confidence in themselves," Oilers coach Dave Tippett told reporters after the win. "Good teams have the confidence that they can come back, but it's more with how you're playing. If you feel you're playing a decent game, you're not just holding on, then you feel like you can come back."

In six career games against Florida, McDavid has notched five goals and eight assists.

"He's an amazing player," Quenneville said of McDavid, who won the Hart Trophy in 2017. "He has high-end speed, skill and talent. You've got to be aware of him on the ice. As a tandem there with Draisaitl, it's a special line. You've got to make sure that you try and deny them off the rush and make an awareness of having those guys spend a lot of time in your zone."

Sergei Bobrovsky, who sits at 3-2-3 on the season, is expected to start in net for the Panthers with a chance to improve his own personal point streak to six games. At the other end of the ice, the Oilers will likely answer with Koskinen, who is off to a very hot start this season at 5-0-0.

The Panthers currently own the ninth-ranked offense in the league (3.40 goals per game) and have found the back of the net a minimum of four times in four of their last five games overall.

"It seems like we have pace," Quenneville said of Florida's recent improvements. "We've scored some timely goals. It seems like in our third periods we're finding ways to have more possession time in the offensive zone. We have some good movement with our D in the offense as well."

NOTES

-- Denis Malgin enters tonight's contest riding a four-game point streak, recording two goals and three assists in that span.

-- Aaron Ekblad ranks fifth in the league in average ice time per game (25:34).

-- MacKenzie Weegar ranks first among Florida's defenseman in goals (3) and points (6).

-- Mike Hoffman is tied for first on the Panthers in goals (5) and third in points (8). The 29-year-old winger also leads the team in shots (28), and is tied for first in power-play points with three.

-- Evgenii Dadonov is tied for first on the Panthers in goals (5) and third in points (8).

-- Brett Connolly has registered four goals over his last five games played.

-- Dryden Hunt leads the Panthers in hits (23); Noel Acciari paces the team in blocks (17).

-- Florida's penalty kill ranks ninth in the league at 84.6 percent.

PROJECTED LINEUP

Forwards

Jonathan Huberdeau - Aleksander Barkov - Evgenii Dadonov

Mike Hoffman - Brian Boyle - Brett Connolly

Frank Vatrano - Denis Malgin - Jayce Hawryluk

Dryden Hunt - Noel Acciari - Colton Sceviour

Defensemen

MacKenzie Weegar - Aaron Ekblad

Mark Pysyk - Anton Stralman

Keith Yandle - Josh Brown

Goalies

Sergei Bobrovsky

Sam Montembeault

Scratches: Vincent Trocheck (lower-body), Mike Matheson (lower-body), Riley Stillman

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

- Oct. 26: The Panthers acquired F Jack Rodewald from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for the rights to F Chris Wilkie.

- Oct. 24: D Riley Stillman was recalled from AHL Springfield.

- Oct. 22: The Panthers acquired F Aleksi Saarela from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for D Ian McCoshen.

- Oct. 20: F Brian Boyle signed a one-year, one-way deal with the Panthers.

- Oct. 20: F Henrik Borgstrom was loaned to AHL Springfield.

HOW TO WATCH / LISTEN

When: Sunday, Oct. 27, 4:00 p.m. ET

Where: Rogers Place - Edmonton, AB

TV: FSF

Stream: FOX Sports GO

Panthers Radio Network: 560 WQAM (Dade/Broward); 640 WMEN (Palm Beach); 100.3 WCTH (Florida Keys)

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