|@ Oilers (17-23-3)||1||0||0||1|
Now, for two games in a row, the Panthers scored on their first shot. This time, Jaromir Jagr worked the puck past Cam Talbot for a highlight reel goal. That goal was vintage Jagr. The lead only lasted around three minutes, though, because Taylor Hall was able to score to tie the game. Gerard Gallant challenged the call, saying that the puck was offsides. Gallant’s watchful eye did not let the Panthers down as the goal was overturned and the Panthers kept the lead. The Panthers would widen this lead soon after on a Jonathan Huberdeau goal. Aleksander Barkov and Brian Campbell got the helpers. Nick Bjugstad defended Corban Knight after an Eric Gryba hit and fought Gryba, which left him bloodied. Each party was given five minutes for fighting, but Nick Bjugstad was also given a minor for instigating and a ten minute misconduct. The minor penalty was killed but Mark Letestu was able to catch the Panthers off guard to put the Oilers on the board, for real this time. The Panthers began to play really well in the offensive zone after that. Derek MacKenzie had a particularly good shot but Cam Talbot was just able to get ahold of it. At the end of the period, the Panthers led 2-1 and for the first time in a while, they also led in shots on goal 5-4. The key to success in this game for the Panthers will be to play quickly. The Edmonton Oilers are not a great defensive team and the Panthers are, but they are much faster and more offensively-minded than the Cats are. The Panthers will need to combat that in order to win and so far, they have been doing decent job in that respect.
The second period started with some rough play between Darnell Nurse and Jonathan Huberdeau but there were not any penalties awarded. The next five minutes were extremely physically, with a lot of play along the boards and near the benches. It may be more fair to say that the Oilers took every possible opportunity to pull some nasty hits on the Panthers. It may have been a mistake to scratch Shawn Thornton tonight. There was a lot going on and the refs weren’t calling any of it. In the meantime, the Oilers had double the amount of shots on goal as the Panthers did. Al Montoya had to make some tough saves in order to maintain the Florida lead. Erik Gudbranson began to fight back against the surprisingly tough Edmonton team. Alex Petrovic also pulled his weight and fought Matt Hendricks (and won). The two were given five minutes each for fighting. A Jonathan Huberdeau high stick left Justin Schultz bloodied and yielded a four minute penalty that would carry over into the third. At the end of the period, the Panthers kept their 2-1 but gave up their shots on goal lead in a big way. The shots were 18-7 in favor of the Oilers. Now, the Panthers knew what they were dealing with. They do not face this team a lot and clearly were not expecting a physical game, but they began to grow into this physical mentality toward the end of the period. They can’t focus too much on the physical though, because they still need to shoot the puck. The Panthers seemed to have trouble doing that in the second, but can hopefully rectify this issue in the third.
The period began with the earlier four-minute penalty being killed. Jonathan Huberdeau had an incredible breakaway opportunity out of the penalty box but somehow, it stayed out of the net. After Matt Hendricks hit Aaron Ekblad and left him in obvious pain, Logan Shaw went after him. Gerard Gallant was rightfully furious because Matt Hendricks was playing a dirty game. Logan Shaw and Matt Hendricks each got five minutes for fighting. It seems like Hendricks has been in the penalty box the entire game. The Panthers were still not getting shots on goal and were beginning to look more and more tired, while the Oilers kept their energy high. Cam Talbot hasn’t had an exceptionally tough game tonight. If not for those two early goals, the Panthers would be in big trouble at the halfway point in the third. Vincent Trocheck and Reilly Smith were able to get the puck moving for the Panthers, and the Barkov-Huberdeau-Jagr line was able to continue this momentum on the next shift. The Panthers were finally fighting back. With just under two minutes left in the game, Cam Talbot headed to the bench. There were definitely some close calls but the Panthers held it down and were able to win their twelfth straight game!
The man, the myth, the legend: Jaromir Jagr. He scored his best goal of the year early on in the first to put the Panthers on the right track. Jonathan Huberdeau scored the game winner tonight, further proving why he has been on the list continuously for a while now. Erik Gudbranson and Alex Petrovic are the usual suspects when protecting teammates against dirty plays, but Logan Shaw and Nick Bjugstad should also be noted because they decided to throw some punches to support their team as well. Al Montoya is now 7-1-1 this season and is the reason that the Panthers won their twelfth straight game. He saved every shot but one tonight, as he has done in each of his last five wins.
The Florida Panthers will be continuing their road trip tomorrow night, January 11th at 10:00 pm ET against the Vancouver Canucks. Make sure to drink plenty of coffee beforehand and stay tuned for a COTP preview and recap of the game in case you do fall asleep.