On Superhero Night at the BB&T Center, there wasn’t one to be found for the Panthers. Instead it was the unassuming Kris Russell who played hero for the visiting Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday, spoiling the Panthers’s return from a perfect 5-game road trip with a late goal.
The Panthers, who hadn’t won more than 3 games in a row all season long, were in the midst of a 5-game winning streak after sweeping their voyage out West. Edmonton was in its second game of a back-to-back after facing the Lightning in a 4-1 loss the night before, but their win over the Panthers gave them 5 in their last 8 games.
Meanwhile, the Panthers are now 8-2-1 in their last 11 after a game in which they never played with the lead.
Oscar Klefbom opened the scoring for the visitors 5:18 in the 1st period with a bomb from the point following a failed clearing attempt by Nick Bjugstad.
Aleksander Barkov responded on an abbreviated power play 21 seconds into the 2nd period, but just over 10 minutes later, the Oilers took the lead for the second time on a goal by Zack Kassian.
Colton Sceviour answered back with his second goal in 4 games before Ryan Nugent-Hopkins put another one the board for the Oilers to make it 3-2.
For the final time, the Panthers would tie things up on the power play when Jonathan Marchessault scored on a lead pass by Keith Yandle with 4 seconds remaining in the middle frame. Kris Russell’s first goal and 6th point of the season would be the game-winner for Edmonton with 8 minutes to go in the 3rd.
Connor McDavid, who was playing in his first game in Sunrise since being drafted here 1st overall in 2015, helped set up the eventual decisive goal on which he earned his only point of the night.
The loss was only the Panthers’ second in regulation this season when scoring at least 3 goals. James Reimer made 31 saves on 35 shots in his 3rd start in 4 games.
The loosely-officiated game saw the Panthers go 2-for-2 on the power play and 1-for-1 on the penalty kill but were unable to get many bounces at even strength. Despite that, the Panthers remain confident in their play and aren’t going to dwell on the negatives that a loss tends to bring.
They haven’t lost 2 consecutive games in regulation since October, so odds are we’ll be in store for a good bounce-back game on Friday against the Flames. Calgary defeated the Predators on Tuesday 6-5 in overtime and will meet the Lightning on Thursday before traveling down to South Florida.
Florida and Calgary last met on January 17th when the Flames put up 5 goals to the Panthers’ 2 at the Sadddedome. Vincent Trocheck scored twice while Roberto Luongo allowed 4 goals on 28 shots.