The Panthers may have had a new coach, a different goalie and a touch more confidence, but it didn't matter much Thursday night.
For the second time in just over two weeks, the Panthers lost to the Edmonton Oilers, this time 4-1 at Rexall Place in the frigid capital of Alberta.
"The key to this game was energy. We didn't have any,'' coach Peter Horachek said. "If our energy is better, if we came out with a workmanlike effort, everything improves. I thought right from the beginning the effort was there, the compete wasn't there. It made it a struggle. We thought we could get it back. We didn't.''
Florida lost in a shootout to the Oilers at home on Nov. 5, with the decision to fire coach Kevin Dineen and replace him with Horachek — then coaching Florida's minor league team — made soon afterward.
Both teams are playing better than they were then, with Edmonton getting a win over provincial rival Calgary on Saturday with a four-goal third period before rolling visiting Columbus 7-0 on Tuesday.
Edmonton jumped all over the Panthers, taking advantage of Tom Gilbert's penalty 25 seconds into the game by getting a power play goal from Jordan Eberle before the first minute had expired.
Eberle would later dump in an empty net goal with 1:11 left. Florida trailed 2-0 as Sam Gagner — who originally took up the game in Coral Springs as his dad Dave played for the Panthers — got his first of the year in the second.
The Panthers would be down by three for the first time under Horachek midway through the second before Scottie Upshall made it 3-1.
Upshall, from the oil town of Fort McMurray about a 4 1/2 hour drive north of Edmonton, has four goals this season with three of them coming against the Oilers.
"We pushed hard at the end which I think was good,'' Upshall said. "There were some positives. . . . It was just a grind, a real uphill climb being down 3-0.''
Florida had a number of opportunities to get back in the game during a third period in which it had three power play chances.
The Panthers went 0-for-5 with the advantage; Edmonton was 2-for-5.
"There were chances, but we didn't get off to a good start,'' Brian Campbell said. "We felt we were in the game. . . . We have to find a way, have to get it done. We didn't have our best game by any means, but we have to find a way to get through that and get the points. This is disappointing.''
Devan Dubnyk turned the Panthers back, making six saves in the third as he helped the Oilers win three straight for the first time this season. Dubnyk got the win in Florida earlier this month as well.
The Panthers were looking for their first three-game streak as well as they had won three of four coming in. The Panthers’ five-game road trip concludes Friday night a few hours south in Calgary.
Jesse Winchester, who plays on a line with Kopecky and Marcel Goc, also left the game with a lower body injury. Winchester returned to the game and played a few shifts in the second but didn't play at all in the third.