Derek Ryan scored his first NHL hat trick and Mikko Koskiken helped steal the game with 44 saves for the Edmonton Oilers in a 4-3 win over the Florida Panthers at FLA Live Arena.
After winning 23 of its first 26 games on home ice this season, the Panthers lost three straight games in Sunrise this week.
Like they did in the losses to Nashville and Columbus, the Cats had an early lead, but couldn’t hold on to it.
The Panthers were carrying the play in the first half of the opening period until an ill-advised pinch by Lucas Carlsson allowed a 2-on-1 break. Drew Shore sent Warren Foegele and Ryan away with the former saucer passing to the latter, who finished the rush with a lowshot through a moving Sergei Bobrovsky at 10:14.
Anton Lundell evened it up 1:36 later, one-timing a beautiful between-the-legs backhand drop pass from Frank Vatrano after Sam Reinhart took possession after Lundell forced a turnover and quickly put the puck on goal.
Florida forged ahead with 3:22 left in the frame with Leon Draisaitl off for tripping. After taking a cross-ice pass from Aaron Ekblad, Anthony Duclair ripped a wrister off the post and Aleksander Barkov was able to stab the rebound under Koskinen.
Despite getting out-shot 16-9 in the second period, the Oilers solved Bobrovsky three times to take a two-goal lead to the third.
Ryan took a cross from Ryan McLeod and snapped a wrist shot from the upper right circle over Bobrovsky’s glove for his second of the afternoon at 7:29. Rookie Markus Niemelainen, playing in his 15th game, picked up his first NHL point with the secondary assist.
Edmonton cashed in on an intereference call against MacKenzie Weegar to take the lead 2:35 later. Tyson Barrie went point to point to Connor McDavid, who went back to the opposite side to an open Draisaitl, and he loaded up and drilled a wrister from the right dot off Radko Gudas past Bobrovsky.
Ryan became the oldest Oiler (35) to notch a hatty when he beat Bobrovsky for a third time with 44 seconds left in the period. With Edmonton on the rush after yet another big Koskinen save, Darnell Nurse made a spinning pass that McDavid helped along to Evander Kane, whose perfect crossing pass found Ryan open behind the Panthers defense for the easy put-away.
Barkov got his second power-play goal of the game with 4:09 remaining, just 13 seconds afrer Koskinen robbed him down low with the glove. Reinhart won a faceoff back to Duclair, whose blast was denied by the Finnish keeper. Jonathan Huberdeau claimed the rebound, faked a shot and sent the puck over to Barkov, who fired it home for the lower portion of the right circle.
The Panthers came close, but couldn’t find the tying goal the rest of the way and fell for the third straight game. Overall, they outplayed the Oilers -shots were 47 to 22, hits were 31 to 24 - but some leaky moments on defense, another subpar game from the goaltender, and a lack of finishing ability cost them. They’ll get a much-needed four days off to work on things before they close the homestand with games against Ottawa on Thursday and Detroit on Saturday. With Tampa Bay playing the Senators on Tuesday, chances are the Cats will be in second place when they get around to facing the Red Wings.
Pressure & Viscosity
- In a game showcasing the NHL’s top three scorers (first time this has happened since March 8, 2009) and four of the league’s best forwards, all did well, but Aleksander Barkov was the brightest star of the bunch, scoring twice and matching his career-high with ten shots on goal. Connor McDavid finished with two assists, Leon Draisaitl potted a goal and Jonathan Huberdeau extended his point streak to ten games with his third period helper. McDavid and Huberdeau lead the league with 75 points. Draisaitl is just one behind with 74.
- All that said, it was Derek Ryan who was the offensive hero for the Oilers and the game’s First Star. Ryan, who came into the game with four goals, became the eighth player in NHL history to score his first hat trick at age 35 or older and the first since Shane Doan did so for the then Phoenix Coyotes on January 7, 2012.
- While his GAA and save percentage aren’t the greatest, and Edmonton’s goaltending is much-maligned, I do want to point out that Mikko Koskinen is 18-8-2 this season.
- After struggling in his last start against Nashville, Sergei Bobrovsky wasn’t at his best in this one either. He stopped 18 of 22 shots faced.
- Aaron Ekblad collected an assist and led the team with four blocked shots and in ice time, playing 28:23, five second less than Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse. He is one assist shy of matching his career high of 36, set in the 2019-20 season.
- For more on the season series splitter, visit Copper and Blue.