Florida Panthers

Florida Panthers top Edmonton Oilers, remain red hot in Canada

Florida Panthers Jussi Jokinen (36) picks up the rebound as Edmonton Oilers goalie Ben Scrivens (30) makes the save and Oscar Klefbom (84) defends during first-period NHL hockey game action in Edmonton, Alberta, Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015.
Florida Panthers Jussi Jokinen (36) picks up the rebound as Edmonton Oilers goalie Ben Scrivens (30) makes the save and Oscar Klefbom (84) defends during first-period NHL hockey game action in Edmonton, Alberta, Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015. AP

The Panthers continued their fantastic road run through western Canada on Sunday night, finding the right mix of offense and goaltending in a 4-2 victory over the Oilers.

And for the first time this season, Florida is on what had been an elusive three-game winning streak.

Florida’s three wins came in a span of four nights, starting Thursday in Vancouver.

The Panthers then polished off the Calgary Flames on Friday.

“Right now, we’re getting rewarded and are finding ways to win games,” said goalie Roberto Luongo, named the game’s first star after making 31 saves against Edmonton.

“We knew [Edmonton] had been playing well lately, and this was going to be a tough game. There’s no easy game for us in this league. If we want to win, we have to come to play. We knew this would be a tough match, and we responded.”

The Panthers have struggled against the Oilers over the past few years, despite both teams usually hanging out around the bottom of the standings.

Sunday’s win, which makes the Panthers 4-1-0 on this six-game trip that ends Tuesday in Winnipeg, was Florida’s second in 11 tries against Edmonton.

The Oilers had won five in a row against the Panthers.

“We battled, stayed ahead much of the night and played pretty well. It was a good, solid game,” coach Gerard Gallant said.

Florida opened the scoring on Jimmy Hayes’ 13th goal of the season. He hammered a drop pass from Nick Bjugstad and sent it screaming past Ben Scrivens.

“We have 20 guys going every night, and we’re a tough team to beat when we do that,” Hayes said. “We just have to keep it up.”

Edmonton tied it up 4:07 into the second, but the Panthers took a 2-1 lead into the second break when Brian Campbell scored his second in as many games off another 50-foot shot that Scrivens never saw.

“I didn’t know who was screening for me, and it was Hayes,” Campbell said. “I saw where the puck was going. You have to credit guys who go to the net. It found a hole.”

The third period all but belonged to the Panthers. They took a two-goal lead on two separate occasions — first off a Tomas Kopecky goal, and then Sean Bergenheim iced it with 4:32 left.

“We can enjoy this for five minutes, and then we have to start looking for Winnipeg,” said Kopecky, who scored his first goal in a month.

Added Bergenheim: “I would say it was an ugly win for us, but we got the two points, and we’re happy about that. But I don’t think we should be happy with the way we played. It was a little sloppy. I know how we can play, and there’s a lot to improve. This won’t cut it against Winnipeg.”

HOMETOWN PROUD

Scottie Upshall took a quick flight to his hometown of Fort McMurray, Alberta, on Saturday to be honored by his former junior team.

The Fort McMurray Oil Barrons retired the No.7 that Upshall wore in his one season (1999-2000) playing for his hometown squad.

Shane O’Brien and Shawn Thornton went along for the hour-long private jet flight.

“It was a really cool deal, very classy and was real nice for my family,” said Upshall, who grew up about a four-hour drive north of Edmonton.

“They had a full house of about 1,200, and it was a nice event. Not bad for a tier-2 junior team.”

▪ The Panthers got Dmitry Kulikov back after he missed Friday’s game with the flu. Aleksander Barkov, however, missed his second game in a row. Florida also scratched Vincent Trocheck and O’Brien.

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