The Florida Panthers literally fought their way to a 2-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday night at sold-out Rexall Place. The victory extended the franchise-record winning streak to twelve and kept the Cats five points ahead of the second place Detroit Red Wings in the Atlantic Division.
Florida only mustered 14 shots on goal during the game, but two goals from the top line and another splendid start from backup goaltender Al Montoya, who finished with 24 stops, was just enough to best the Western Conference's worst team.
Jaromir Jagr put the Panthers up 3:22 into the game with a breakaway goal. Jagr tried to put the moves on Cam Talbot after stealing the puck from Darnell Nurse at the Oilers' blue line, Talbot held his ground, but was fooled by Jagr's bobble which ended up in the back of the net for the ageless wonder's fifteenth of the season.
Less than a minute after Gerard Gallant had a Taylor Hall goal wiped off the board with a successful challenge, the play was ruled offsides, Jonathan Huberdeau bagged his sixth of the season at 7:04 from Aleksander Barkov and Brian Campbell to put the Panthers up by two. Jagr let Campbell's pass behind the net go between his legs to Barkov who fed Hubderdeau out in front to cap off some great puck movement.
The Oilers halved the deficit at 12:32 when Mark Letestu knocked Lauri Korpikoski's centering fed by Montoya. Matt Hendricks drew the second helper with some hard work behind the Panthers' goal, freeing the puck for Korpikoski.
That was it for the scoring, as Montoya turned away twenty-one shots over the final two periods while Talbot stopped nine.
The game featured plenty of hits, including Erik Gudbranson's bone-rattler on Hall, and three separate bouts. Nick Bjugstad got punchy with Eric Gryba in first period, receiving an instigator minor and a ten-minute misconduct. Alex Petrovic and Hendricks went at it in the second period and the busy Hendricks tussled with rookie Logan Shaw in the third.
The Cats, a perfect 3-0 on this arduous six-game roadie, get right back at it tonight with a 10 PM tilt versus the Vancouver Canucks.
Pressure & Viscosity
- For the second straight game no Panther skater hit the 3 shots on goal mark. Aleksander Barkov, Jaromir Jagr, Jussi Jokinen and Reilly Smith were the only Cats with two.
- Nick Bjugstad remains scoreless since returning to the lineup. The big pivot only had one shot, but did rack up 17 PIM and finish with 4 hits.
- Speaking of hits, forward Quinton Howden dished a game-high five of them.
- Al Montoya raised his record to 7-1-1 and lowered his GAA to a minuscule 1.62. The veteran keeper's save percentage is an astounding .940.
- Cam Talbot, a Florida target in the offseason, saw his record fall to 7-13-2. Talbot sports a GAA of 2.75, pretty respectable consider who is playing front of him.
- What's cooler than cool? Ice cold... and Jussi Jokinen. Jokinen has managed just one assist in the last ten games.
- Once again, the Panthers lost the fancy stats battle, but came away with two points. war-on-ice has the numbers for you here.
- Check out the true colors of Copper & Blue for the other side. It's beautiful... like a rainbow.
Highlights (courtesy of NHL.com)