Edmonton Oilers at Florida Panthers game preview
The NHL-worst Edmonton Oilers have dropped three in a row in regulation, a skid that began at home against the Florida Panthers last weekend.
Returning the favor Saturday night on the Panthers’ home ice may be tough even though the Oilers have won five straight there because they enter mired in a franchise-record, 14-game road losing streak.
The Oilers (10-26-9) are averaging 2.2 goals and allowing 3.31 per game to rank near the bottom of the league in both categories. Their 29 points are the fewest in the NHL, only 11 of which have come on the road.
Edmonton hasn’t tasted victory away from home since beating the New York Rangers 3-1 on Nov. 9, and its only other road win came two days earlier against Buffalo. No team has dropped 15 straight on the road since Chicago endured a 19-game skid in 2003-04.
The Oilers fell 4-2 to Florida on Sunday before opening a four-game trek with Tuesday’s 4-2 defeat to St. Louis. Their woes continued two nights later with a 3-2 loss at Tampa Bay as Ben Scrivens allowed two goals in the third period.
"It’s not like we’re getting blown out every game like last year," said Scrivens, who is 0-6-5 with a 3.30 goals-against average on the road. "We’ve been playing better, but we’ve got to figure out it’s easier to play defense in the third than try to score one late."
Benoit Pouliot scored both goals, giving him six in the past four games. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins assisted on both as the Oilers outshot Tampa Bay 32-19, including 14-9 over the final 20 minutes.
"We were still doing the right things, but they buried their chances and we didn’t," coach Todd Nelson told the league’s official website. "If we keep on generating chances, those goals will go in."
Edmonton had won five straight and nine of 10 against the Panthers before coming up short last weekend as Roberto Luongo stopped 31 shots. Scrivens dropped to 3-1-0 with a 1.84 GAA against Florida after making 23 saves.
The Oilers have won their only five visits to Sunrise since losing there March 8, 2002, though the past four have gone past regulation.
The Panthers (20-13-9) are hoping to avoid losing three straight for the first time since Nov. 4-8 after falling 4-2 to Colorado on Thursday. Aaron Ekblad and Aleksander Barkov scored for Florida, which opened a five-game homestand.
"The boys fought hard tonight, (I) just need to be better to give them a chance," Luongo said after stopping 25 of 28 shots.
Two nights earlier, he was pulled in the second period after allowing four goals in an 8-2 loss at Winnipeg. Luongo hasn’t lost three straight starts since dropping his first three of the season.
While he’ll see several familiar faces when Vancouver comes to town Monday in Florida’s final game before the All-Star break, Luongo appears to be focused on the task at hand. He is 15-5-1 with a 2.18 GAA and three shutouts in his last 21 starts against the Oilers, allowing eight goals in five matchups since the start of last season.
"It’s two games left," he said. "Focus on the Saturday game first and foremost and make sure we have the same type of effort, if not better than (Thursday)."
Panthers left wing Jonathan Huberdeau has three goals and four assists over the last five games.