McDavid leads Oilers past Panthers in 4-3 overtime loss

Image courtesy of @turbuL3NT2 / COTP Photography
Image courtesy of @turbuL3NT2 / COTP Photography
Connor McDavid had never faced the Panthers in his young, 91-game NHL career before Wednesday night. But that changed, and now they know him very well. 

Drafted first overall at the 2015 Draft inside the Panthers’ arena in Sunrise, Florida, a dead-tired McDavid scored the overtime winner on a breakaway with 2.6 seconds left to cap off a 3-point night. He set up back-to-back goals by Zack Kassian and Mark Letestu just 6:54 apart in the 1st period before his late heroics.

After the Oilers took the 2-0 lead, Vincent Trocheck continued his torrent scoring pace by recorded his team-leading 17th goal of the season after being put back together with his linemates of last year, Jussi Jokinen and Reilly Smith.

McDavid’s 92nd game in the NHL netted him his 100th, 101st, and 102nd career points.

Michael Sgarbossa, who was acquired for Logan Shaw in mid-November, scored his first career NHL goal on the power play in the 2nd period to tie the game at 2. Greg McKegg tallied his 3rd goal in his last 5 games in the 3rd period when he crashed the net and redirected a Jaromir Jagr wrist shot past Cam Talbot, who stopped 28 of 31 shots.

The Oilers tied the game and 3 and forced the overtime period after a turnover by Keith Yandle allowed Jordan Eberle to go the other way and snap the puck past James Reimer. Reimer was handed his first loss in the past 3 road starts despite making 27 saves.

He nearly stopped McDavid’s 15th of the season and sent the game to a shootout, but his catching glove was over the goal line with the puck in it, so the referees deemed it a good goal after a short review.

The Panthers have now dropped 2 straight to start a 4-game road trip with their defeat of the Blue Jackets on Saturday already seeming like a distant memory. They managed to pick up their play significantly once Trocheck cut the Oilers’ lead to 1 and carried a solid effort into the latter half of the 3rd period before the game was tied by Edmonton with 2:59 to go.

Certainly, it was a game the Panthers should’ve and could’ve won, but they took their foot off the gas for a split second and it cost them like it has far too many times this season.

Mike Matheson led both the Panthers and Oilers in ice time with 26:27 logged while Trocheck led all Panthers forwards with 23:48 as he extended his point streak to 6 games and his goal streak to 4 games. The loss gives the Panthers a record of 14-0-5 in games where they’ve scored at least 3 goals in regulation, something they’ve done just 4 times in their last 12 games.

Their trip to Canada will wrap up on Friday when they meet the Vancouver Canucks for the second time this year. The Panthers took the first meeting by a score of 4-2 in Florida on December 10th with Aleksander Barkov and Derek MacKenzie each recording 2 points. The Canucks lost 4 straight games before defeating the Nashville Predators 1-0 on Tuesday.

Post-game notes: F Seth Griffith was a healthy scratch for the third game in a row while F Denis Malgin was scratched for the 2nd game in a row. … D Dylan McIlrath played for the first time since December 15th after going on a 2-week conditioning stint in the AHL. He was paired with D Keith Yandle while D Jakub Kindl was a healthy scratch. … F Vincent Trocheck has 16 points in his last 12 games, including 9 goals and 7 assists. He also has 4 multi-point performances in his last 6 games and is on a 4-game goal streak during which he has 5 goals. … F Derek MacKenzie played in his 500th career NHL game tonight. He the 7th player in history to reach the 500-game mark in the AHL & NHL. … The Panthers are now up to 145 man-games lost to injury.
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