Cats Vs. Oilers: A History Lesson

How have the Panthers stacked up against Edmonton throughout their history?

Florida is 9-9-4 with three ties (remember those?) against Edmonton since their inception in 1993. They defeated the Oilers 4-2 on Sunday, but prior to that they haven't enjoyed a lot of success in recent years.

The 27-28-10 Panthers first faced off against the 18-40-10 Oilers on March 9th, 1994, and earned a 5-3 victory. Dave Lowry scored twice, Bob Kudelski had a goal and an assist, Gord Murphy pitched in two assists, and Stu Barnes and Bill Lindsay scored a goal apiece in the victory, while backup goaltender Mark Fitzpatrick made 18 saves. Bill Ranford was between the pipes for Edmonton, and turned aside 25-of-30 shots in the loss. * Box Score

Nine days later, the 19-41-11 Oilers tied the 30-29-10 Panthers, 4-4 at the Miami Arena. Barnes, Kudelski and Brian Skrudland each had a goal and an assist, and Lindsay also pitched in a goal to beat netminder Fred Brathwaite, who otherwise made 29 saves. John Vanbiesbrouck allowed four goals on 38 shots for the tie. * Box Score

The Cats didn’t see the Oilers for the lockout-shortened 1994-95 season. When play resumed in 1995-96, 11-4-0 Florida hosted the 4-6-3 Oilers on November 9th, 1995 and skated off with a 2-1 win. Johan Garpenlov and Mike Hough lit the lamp for the Panthers, each beating Ranford on 31 shots. Zdeno Ciger provided the only blemish on Beezer’s night, which would see him otherwise make 18 saves. * Box Score

On January 5th, the 25-11-2 Cats earned a 3-2 win behind two goals from Dave Lowry and on from Tom Fitzgerald. Jesse Belanger made two assists, and Mark Fitzpatrick saved 28 shots in 30 tries. Ciger and Jason Arnott lit the lamp for the 13-21-6 Oilers, in front of Fred Brathwaite’s 16 saves. * Box Score Florida closed out that season with their first playoff berth and the eventual Eastern Conference Championship.

On December 15th, 1996, the 17-6-7 Panthers scored six times to double up the 14-15-3 Oilers’ goals, three on 28 shots against Vanbiesbrouck. The Panthers would see Radek Dvorak, Scott Mellanby and Tom Fitzgerald tally a goal and an assist each, and Martin Straka dish out two helpers. Ed Jovanovski, Bill Lindsay and Gord Murphy each also scored goals. * Box Score

Later that season, Edmonton (20-21-4) earned their first ever win over the 22-11-10 Panthers (in their sixth attempt) by shutting out the Panthers by a 4-0 final score on January 15th, 1997. Curtis Joseph stopped all 40 of Florida's shot attempts in their win, as Vanbiesbrouck made 24-of-28 saves. * Box Score * The Panthers went on to make the playoffs for the second season in a row with a 35-28-19 record.

1997-98 would see the Panthers go winless against the Oilers, losing their two contests by a combined score of 7-2. The Panthers would would post a 24-43-15 record, their worst ever to that point.

Those teams had nothing to do with today's gladiators. As good as the Panthers were those first few seasons, it's time for a few new memories. If the season were to end today, Florida would have their second best points percentage ever, with a mark of .583. The only time they finished with a better record was in 1999-00, when they finished 43-27-6-6, at .598.

The Oilers come a-knockin' at 7PM. Make sure to come in for the Game Thread and stay for the free beer.