Preview: Panthers at Oilers
The blueprint for facing the Edmonton Oilers has not changed much from last season - bottle up the team's lethal No. 1 line and the opposition's chances rise dramatically. That has been a near-impossible task at Rogers Place, where the Pacific Division-leading Oilers look to improve to a perfect 6-0-0 against the Florida Panthers on Sunday afternoon.
Edmonton appeared headed for a third consecutive defeat Thursday versus Washington but Leon Draisaitl and captain Connor McDavid scored in the third period before combining for the winning goal in overtime. "Our big guys kind of took over and we ended up with the win," coach Dave Tippett told reporters after the Oilers rebounded from back-to-back shutout defeats. "After not scoring for a couple of games, the guys came back hard and we played well against a good team." An inability to win the close ones has haunted the Panthers, who have earned points in seven straight games (3-0-4) after suffering their third shootout loss Thursday in Calgary. "We know we have a good enough team to win games and battle back from any point of the game," captain Aleksander Barkov told the media after Florida erased a two-goal deficit in the third versus the Flames. "Even if we're losing by two or three goals, we can battle back. It shows our character. We have that."
TV: 4 p.m. ET, FS Florida, SportsNet West (Edmonton)
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (4-2-4): Coming off a career-best 35 goal campaign, Barkov has yet to score this season, although he is tied for the team lead with 12 points after setting up four goals Thursday. "I try to do whatever I can do," Barkov told reporters. "I'm playing with really good players. You don't need to make an unbelievable pass for them to score goals. I need to start thinking more about shooting and having that mentality." Barkov, who moved into fourth place on the franchise's all-time points list, has one goal and five assists in 10 career games versus the Oilers.
ABOUT THE OILERS (8-2-1): McDavid had been held off the scoresheet for three straight games for only the second time in his career before collecting three points against Washington to boost his season total to 20, including 13 in five home games. Draisiatl, a 50-goal scorer last season, connected twice as part of a three-point night and has amassed 12 of his 19 points at Rogers Place while notching eight in as many games against the Panthers. Mikko Koskinen etched his name into the record books, becoming the first goaltender in franchise history to start 5-0-0.
1. McDavid has tormented Florida with five goals and 13 points in six meetings.
2. Panthers F Jonathan Huberdeau is on a tear with all five of his goals coming in the last five games.
3. Oilers F Josh Archibald is expected to miss a month due to a broken foot.
PREDICTION: Oilers 4, Panthers 3