SUNRISE, Fla. (AP)Adam Larsson scored his first goal since last February, Leon Draisaitl added an insurance goal seconds into the third period and the Edmonton Oilers beat the Florida Panthers 4-1 Saturday night.
Darnell Nurse and Kailer Yamamoto had empty-net goals in the final two minutes for the Oilers, who have won three of their last four games.
It was the sixth loss in the last seven games for the Panthers, who are 2-6-1 since the All-Star break. Florida had entered the break on a six-game win streak.
Edmonton goalie Mikko Koskinen made 33 saves, while back-up netminder Sam Montembeault stopped 25 of 27 shots for Florida.
Larsson’s first goal since Feb. 19, 2019 put the Oilers ahead 1-0 at the 15:14 mark of the first period on a one-timer from just inside the blue line.
”I thought we played solid hockey all night tonight,” he said. ”That’s a good sign for us.”
Larsson praised the solid outing by Koskinen.
”He’s been outstanding the whole year and now we have two really, really good goaltenders,” Larsson said.
His goal was assisted by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who has points in 12 of his last 14 games. Nugent-Hopkins has been pesky against the Panthers with 13 points in his last 14 games against them.
Edmonton coach Dave Tippett called the victory a confidence-builder.
”We played really solid positionally,” he said. ”We just kind of banged it around and found a way to get a win.”
Draisaitl’s insurance tally, into a wide open right side against an out-of-position Montembeault, came just 13 seconds into the third period. It was the 33rd goal this season for Draisaitl, who has eight points in his last four games.
Draisaitl, who entered the game leading the NHL with 90 points, became the first player to have 10 game-winning goals since Jari Kurri tallied the same number in 1986-87.
The Panthers cut the deficit to 2-1 at 8:45 of the third period when Jonathan Huberdeau scored his 21st goal.
Huberdeau said a quick change is needed as the team heads to California and the start of a five-game road trip.
”There’s no emotion, and that starts with us. We (all) have to pick it up … especially when we’re going on a long road trip,” he said. ”I don’t think we’re working hard enough.”
With his assist on Huberdeau’s goal, captain Aleksander Barkov moved into second place in assists (250) in Panthers history.
Barkov said the sense of urgency has to start out west.
”Before the All-Star break, we had fun and played for each other. We battled for each other and worked hard,” he said. ”Now it feels like we’re not first to the pucks. All the little things we need to get better at.”
Edmonton came close to scoring midway through the first period, but Alex Chiasson’s breakaway shot glanced off Montembeault’s stick blade.
Florida coach Joel Quenneville said the team should not be looking for excuses..
”(Our play is) just not good enough. At the start of the game, we didn’t dictate the tempo or the pace,” Quenneville said. ”They get the lead and they control the game, and we’re chasing it the whole game.”
Florida got a scare five minutes into the second period when Barkov left the game after receiving a blindside hit from Edmonton’s Matt Benning against the boards. Barkov returned to the bench a few minutes later.
Things got a little chippy after the Barkov incident. After Noel Acciari mixed it up with Benning, the Panthers’ Josh Brown and Larsson dropped the gloves at center ice. Both received five-minute majors.
NOTES: Edmonton RW Zack Kassian began his seven-game suspension for kicking Tampa Bay defenseman Erik Cernak on Thursday. … Oilers C and former Panther Riley Sheehan played in his 500th NHL game. … The Panthers commemorated Friday’s second anniversary of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shootings in Parkland with a pre-game ceremony.
Oilers: Visit Carolina on Sunday.
Panthers: Visit San Jose on Monday.
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