Panthers-Oilers Preview


The Florida Panthers and Edmonton Oilers may be two of the worst teams in the NHL, but they are feeling good about their recent efforts.

One of these clubs with walk away with its first three-game winning streak of the season when the Panthers continue a road-heavy stretch Thursday night with their first visit to Edmonton in over three years.

Florida (6-12-4) is in a stretch of playing eight of nine away from home and opened a season-high five-game trip with a 3-2 loss to Minnesota on Friday, its ninth straight on the road.

The Panthers, however, ended that skid Saturday with a 4-1 win over Colorado and beat Vancouver 3-2 in a shootout Tuesday. They are 3-3-0 under interim coach Peter Horachek, who took over for the fired Kevin Dineen after a 3-9-4 start.

Goaltender Tim Thomas has led the way as Florida has won three of four. He's started each game during that span, posting a 1.97 goals-against average and .931 save percentage.

"He's won a Stanley Cup before, he's won a Vezina, and that's why," Horachek said. "He's confident (and) he's got a smile on his face when he is doing it.

"He gives our guys confidence."

Thomas didn't play against visiting Edmonton (6-15-2) in a 4-3 overtime loss Nov. 5. He's won all three of his starts versus the Oilers and registered shutouts in the past two, last facing them Oct. 27, 2008, and coming away with a 1-0 overtime victory while with Boston.

Left wing Jonathan Huberdeau has also provided a spark for Florida. He scored in the first two games of the trip and had the only goal in the shootout Tuesday.

"I'm trying to do different things every time, and it worked out tonight," Huberdeau told the Panthers' official website. "... We found a way to win in the shootout. It was important to get two points for us."

Florida hasn't earned many points in Edmonton, going 1-6-0 with a tie after recording wins in its first two visits in March 1994 and January 1996.

The Panthers are also 1-4-4 in the last nine overall matchups, and they'll be taking on an Oilers team that is rolling offensively.

Edmonton scored four times in the third period of Saturday's 4-2 win at Calgary and cruised to a 7-0 victory over visiting Columbus on Tuesday.

David Perron had a career-high four-point game with two goals and two assists against the Blue Jackets as the Oilers ended a six-game home losing streak and improved to 2-7-0 on their own ice.

Edmonton was 1-9-1 in its previous 11 games - the only win coming at Florida - before putting together its second set of back-to-back victories.

"The wins have been few and far between and to have a game like that, especially at home, it's good for the team, but more importantly it's good for our fans," coach Dallas Eakins said.

"They've been suffering just as much as we have. It's nice to give them something to go home feeling good about."

Rookie center Mark Arcobello scored the only two goals of his career, the second in overtime, in the first meeting with the Panthers. Forward Scottie Upshall scored twice for Florida, giving him seven goals in 13 career games against Edmonton.