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Panthers pounce on Oilers for impressive 5-1 win

Florida Panthers' Carter Verhaeghe (23) scores on Edmonton Oilers goalie Calvin Pickard (30) during first period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday Dec. 16, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson Florida Panthers' Carter Verhaeghe (23) scores on Edmonton Oilers goalie Calvin Pickard (30) during first period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday Dec. 16, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

The Florida Panthers rediscovered their scoring touch on Saturday.

Carter Verhaeghe had two goals and an assist as the Panthers made up for being shut out their previous two outings by coming away with a 5-1 victory over the suddenly cooled off Edmonton Oilers.

“When you don’t score in two games it sucks, so it was nice to see the puck go in the net,” said Verhaeghe. “We’re a resilient team and I think we came out the right way and it was nice to get the first couple of goals of the game, it started us off in the right foot.

"We believe in ourselves, and it was nice to get the win.”

Sam Bennett had a goal and two assists and Brandon Montour and Aleksander Barkov also scored for the Panthers (18-10-2) who snapped a two-game skid.

Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky made 38 saves for the win.

“You’re not beating these guys on home ice unless you get a goaltending performance like that,” said Florida head coach Paul Maurice. “He was quick and as dynamic and explosive as he was in the crease, he was also incredibly calm. You could feel it from the bench he wasn’t getting beat tonight. We needed that, we needed our A guys to step up and be great.”

Zach Hyman replied for the Oilers (13-14-1) who have now lost two straight on the heels of an eight-game winning streak.

“Obviously a sloppy game for us, especially at the end of the first,” Hyman said. “It’s 1-0 and we give up two in the last two minutes (1:02, actually) on plays that we can control, getting outnumbered at the net, just not defending the way we have been. It’s a tough one, we have to move past it and get ready for the New York trip.”

The Panthers started the scoring 5:33 into the opening period thanks to a nice job cycling the puck, capped off by Bennett sending it across the top of the crease to Verhaeghe, who put his 14th of the season past Oilers starter Calvin Pickard.

It was then Verhaeghe making the nice pass coming from behind the net to a wide-open pinching Montour, who scored his first of the season with just over a minute to play in the first.

Just 29 seconds later, the Panthers clawed out a 3-0 lead when Barkov shovelled in a rebound in tight for his 11th of the campaign.

It was the eighth goal allowed by Edmonton in their last two periods of play, added to their five conceded to Tampa Bay in the third period of a 7-4 loss on Thursday.

Bobrovsky had a solid opening frame, twice stopping Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on Grade A opportunities.

Edmonton finally got on the board eight minutes into the second period as Hyman switched to his backhand and lifted his 18th of the season past Bobrovsky. Connor McDavid picked up an assist to extend his points streak to 12 games, a span during which he has netted 28 points and moved from 91st in the scoring race to sixth.

Florida restored its three-goal advantage with four minutes to play in the second period as Bennett gained the zone on the power play and drove the net, deking Pickard to score his fourth on the backhand.

The Panthers added to their lead just 21 seconds into the final frame as Verhaeghe stopped short and took his time before rifling his second of the game up high.

Edmonton had a good chance to get back into the game four minutes later when Sam Gagner was awarded a penalty shot, but Bobrovsky showed a ton of patience in making the stop.

"We've gotten back on track the last couple of weeks, but we have to be ready to play all the time … these teams are good and hungry,” said Oilers defender Brett Kulak. “They hadn't been playing good coming into this one and they were hungry around the net and we didn't have our A game."


Panthers defenceman Josh Mahura returned to the lineup after missing the last 13 games with an injury. … Evan Rodrigues and Gustav Forsling entered the Florida lineup in place of forward Anton Lundell and defenceman Aaron Ekblad, both listed as being out with illnesses. … The Oilers remained without forward Dylan Holloway, although he is expected to join them on their upcoming road trip. … Panthers blue liner Nikko Mikkola skated in his 200th NHL game. … The last time the Oilers beat the Panthers at home in regulation was a 4-1 victory at their old Rexall Place arena in November of 2013.


Panthers: Finish a five-game road trip in Calgary against the Flames on Monday.

Oilers: Embark on a six-game road trip, beginning in New York against the Islanders on Tuesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 16, 2023. Top Stories

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