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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, November 21st (All times Eastern)
Florida Panthers (6-12-4) at Edmonton Oilers (6-15-2), 9:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Florida Panthers and Edmonton Oilers come into Thursday night's matchup holding two of the bottom three spots in the NHL standings.
However, one club will also exit the encounter with its first three-game winning streak of the season.
The Panthers sit 15th out of 16 teams in the Eastern Conference with 16 points despite winning three of their last four games, while the Oilers are last in the West with 14 points.
Despite the struggles, Florida has won back-to-back games for the first time this season and is showing signs of life under interim head coach Peter Horachek.
Edmonton is riding just its second two-game winning streak of the season and is coming off just its second home victory in nine tries this season, a 7-0 rout of the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday.
Even though the Oilers recalled recently-signed goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, head coach Dallas Eakins stuck with Devan Dubnyk in net and he responded with an easy 14-save shutout. It was Dubnyk's first whitewash of the season and seventh of his career.
David Perron paced Edmonton's season-high goal output with a pair of tallies and two assists, while Jordan Eberle, Nail Yakupov and Ryan Smyth added a goal and an assist each.
"I doubt it's going to be 7-0 every night, but I feel that we did get some bounces tonight," Perron said.
Eberle's helper was his 12th of the season and 100th of his career, while Yakupov is showing signs of breaking out of a slow start with three goals and two assists over his last five games.
Taylor Hall and Justin Schultz also scored in Tuesday's win, with Schultz returning from an eight-game absence caused by a groin injury.
Meanwhile, Horachek's club is coming off a 3-2 shootout win on Tuesday over the Canucks, the Panthers' first victory in Vancouver since 1994.
Tim Thomas, who squared off against Vancouver in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals and emerged victorious, made 27 saves on Tuesday and stopped all three skaters he faced in the shootout, while Jonathan Huberdeau scored the lone goal in the tiebreaker.
"The guys played hard and really felt like what it was like to play 60 minutes," Horachek said.
Brad Boyes and Shawn Matthias scored in regulation for the Panthers, who tonight play the fourth contest of a five-game road trip.
Florida will next look to find success in Edmonton, where it has won just once in its past eight trips. The Panthers are 3-6-0 with a tie all-time in Edmonton and have lost four straight overall against the Oilers, lasting winning in this series on Dec. 11, 2008 on the road.
That skid includes a 4-3 overtime setback in Florida on Nov. 5. Dubnyk made 20 saves and has won both of his previous career starts against the Panthers while posting a 1.89 goals against average.
Thomas did not start that game for the Panthers but has had a ton of previous success versus the Oilers. He has won all three of his career starts against them, logging a 0.98 GAA and two shutouts while stopping 90-of-93 shots faced.
11/21 10:59:03 ET
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