Panthers notebook

Florida Panthers hope to end scoring woes against leaky Oilers defense

Sam Gagner #89 of the Edmonton Oilers returns after injury to play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game on October, 29, 2013 at Rexall Place in Edmonton, AB, Canada.
Sam Gagner #89 of the Edmonton Oilers returns after injury to play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game on October, 29, 2013 at Rexall Place in Edmonton, AB, Canada.
Derek Leung / Getty Images

Tuesday: Oilers at Panthers

When/where: 7:30 p.m.; BB&T Center, Sunrise.

TV/radio: FSNF; WQAM 560.

The series: Edmonton leads 11-8-3.

Scouting report: Both teams are struggling and haven’t won in their past five games. Florida hasn’t beaten the Oilers at home since March 8, 2002 — a span of four home losses. Florida last beat the Oilers, in Edmonton, on Dec. 11, 2008. The Panthers play eight of the next 10 away from Sunrise, including a visit to Edmonton on Nov. 21.

The Florida Panthers could find a temporary fix for their scoring woes Tuesday: No team in the league has given up more goals than Edmonton.

Florida, which has scored four or more goals just twice in the opening 13 games this season, is tied for 25th in the league, averaging just under two goals per game.

During the Panthers’ five-game winless streak, the team has scored three goals just once. Edmonton has given up 19 goals in its past five games.

“The stock answers are we need to put more pucks on net, create more traffic, believe in the offense,” coach Kevin Dineen said. “At the end of it, when you are an offensive player and the puck isn’t going in for you on a consistent basis, there’s a frustration.

“But we believe in our skill guys and are going to keep putting them out there in situations where this will pop somewhere along the line.”

Florida and Edmonton are among the worst teams in the league — not only in putting the puck in the net, but keeping it out as well.

Edmonton’s average of almost four goals a night is worst in the league, but Florida isn’t far behind.

The Panthers’ 3.29 goals allowed is just two spots higher than the Oilers, who are tied for the league’s worst goal differential with Buffalo at minus-23. Florida isn’t much better at minus-21.

The Panthers, it should be noted, lost at home to Buffalo last month.

Like Florida, Edmonton hasn’t won in its past five games, although the Oilers have looked much worse in their skid, having been outscored 19-6 in that stretch.

Edmonton came to South Florida after back-to-back home losses in which Toronto and Detroit outscored the Oilers 9-0.

“Teams go through adversity, and they battle through it,” Edmonton’s Sam Gagner, who took up playing hockey as a kid in Coral Springs, told The Edmonton Journal. “If things are going bad, you don’t throw in the towel.”

One player on the Panthers who knows a little something about scoring might not play Tuesday.

Kris Versteeg, a healthy scratch Saturday for what he said was the first time, was the odd man out on a line with Marcel Goc, Tomas Kopecky and Shawn Matthias in Monday’s practice.

Dineen is said to be unhappy with Versteeg’s effort and all-around play, although Versteeg said after Monday’s practice that the two haven’t spoken about the situation.

“I have to earn my time back,” Versteeg said Monday. “It’s not easy, but you keep working. You get paid a lot of money to play a game you love, so you roll with the good times and deal with the bad times and try to always come out on top.”

Versteeg said Saturday that he did struggle getting comfortable early in the season after coming back from major reconstructive knee surgery.

But Versteeg said he has been feeling good lately and believes he has been playing hard.

Dineen wouldn’t say Versteeg is in or out of the lineup Tuesday, although not having his own line in practice seems to suggest he may not be.

“It’s not easy for anyone to be in that situation,” Dineen said. “We make lineup decisions on what we think is the best way to compete against Edmonton.”

Thomas’ status

Goalie Tim Thomas didn’t practice with the team Monday, although Dineen said he worked out earlier that day and over the weekend.

Thomas is out for Tuesday’s game, but Dineen said he would be making Florida’s upcoming road trip.

Florida visits Boston, where Thomas led the Bruins to their first Stanley Cup in four decades, on Thursday.

Read more Florida Panthers stories from the Miami Herald

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