There are few gimmes in the NHL, but if there ever was one, it was Saturday night.
The visiting Oilers sure didn’t follow the script though.
Edmonton, which hadn’t won on the road since November, got a short-handed goal in the third period and topped the Panthers 3-2 in a shootout at BB&T Center. The Oilers had been 0-8-6 away from Edmonton before winning the shootout 1-0.
Florida, which hasn’t beaten the Oilers at home since 2002, has lost three in a row for the first time this season. The Panthers did pick up a point on the Bruins and Rangers in the playoff race after Boston lost to Columbus on Saturday.
“This was a game we needed to win, and we didn’t work hard enough,” captain Willie Mitchell said after a closed-door, postgame meeting.
“As a player, you owe it to your teammate to lay it all out there. I don’t deny our want to win as a team; we just weren’t good enough in all aspects of the game. … It wasn’t a mature enough game for us.”
Said coach Gerard Gallant: “We had a real bad game again tonight, got outworked in every aspect of the game. [Goalie Roberto Luongo] bailed us out to get that one point. We were definitely not good enough.”
Florida won in Edmonton last Sunday yet struggled to get anything going on Saturday.
The Panthers went into the third up 2-1 before the Oilers’ Matt Hendricks scored a short-handed goal after a Florida turnover at center ice midway through the period.
Florida’s power play has struggled all season, but it has been magnified of late. The Panthers have one power-play goal in their past seven games and went 0 for 3 in the third period Saturday.
“We definitely wanted these points at home,” Nick Bjugstad said. “We beat ourselves. We need to score on the power play, and giving up a short-handed goal is huge. That kind of put us away for a little bit. It wasn’t good.”
Florida trailed 1-0 after Jordan Eberle drove in on Luongo 3:35 into the second period. Two minutes later, Erik Gudbranson got his second of the season on a shot from just inside the blue line.
Gudbranson hadn't scored since he notched Florida's first goal of the season in the opener at Tampa on Oct. 9.
"It was a great shot,'' Gallant said. "Too bad we fell a little bit short.''
Later in the period, Jonathan Huberdeau gave Florida its first lead after jumping on a loose puck that bounded off the goal cage off a Aleksander Barkov shot.
"I was in front and hoping the puck would come,'' Huberdeau said. "It did and I was very fortunate. We're playing pretty good together but we have to pllay better on both sides of the ice.''
▪ Vincent Trocheck and Brandon Pirri were healthy scratches for the third game in a row. The two have been mostly left out of the lineup over the past few weeks, and at least one — probably Trocheck — is expected to be sent to the minors as the All-Star break starts Tuesday.
Pirri has a one-way deal, meaning he would have to pass through waivers and be paid his full NHL salary if sent to AHL San Antonio.
Trocheck wouldn’t have to be risked through waivers and would be paid a lesser AHL salary.
Trocheck has been scratched in five of the past six games; Pirri eight of the past 11.