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Despite two goals from Connor McDavid, Oilers fall to Panthers

Nov 20, 2023; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Florida Panthers center Sam Bennett (9) chases a loose puck during the first period against the Edmonton Oilers at Amerant Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The host Florida Panthers overcame two goals by Edmonton superstar Connor McDavid, defeating the Oilers, 5-3, on Monday night in Sunrise.

McDavid, who has led the NHL in points five times, now has six goals and nine assists this season.

Panthers defenseman Niko Mikkola — quite improbably — matched McDavid’s two goals. Prior to this game, Mikkola had only scored six goals in five NHL seasons.

Panthers center/team captain Aleksander Barkov, who took a knee-on-knee hit on Friday against Anaheim, missed the game.

Goalie Calvin Pickard, 31, made his Oilers debut on Monday, stopping 28 shots. He was recalled from the American Hockey League, making his first start in nearly two years — since March 27, 2022.

Sergei Bobrovsky made 27 saves for the Panthers.

The Panthers also got one goal and two assists from Kevin Stenlund, and one goal and one assist from Carter Verhaeghe. Sam Bennett’s empty-net goal with 44 seconds left sealed the win.

Evander Kane scored Edmonton’s other goal.

Florida improved to 7-1-0 at home, and Edmonton is just 2-7-0 on the road. The Panthers are also 8-0-1 this season when leading after two periods.

The first period ended 2-2 as the Oilers scored twice in the first nine minutes before Florida retaliated.

McDavid opened the scoring with his bad-angle one-timer, beating Bobrovsky to the short side. Leon Draisaitl had the primary assist.

The Oilers made it 2-0 after winning a battle for the puck along the right boards. Derek Ryan then fed the puck to a charging Kane for the goal.

Florida got on the board with 9:24 left in the first. After a roughing penalty on Kane, Sam Reinhart got the puck to Carter Verhaeghe in the high slot. Verhaeghe took a couple steps forward before unleashing a shot that went in just under the crossbar.

The Panthers tied the score 2-2 with 4:07 remaining in the first. After a drop pass from Kevin Stenlund, Mikkola scored as the puck squirted through a small gap between Pickard’s chest and left arm.

Edmonton took a 3-2 lead with 15:00 left in the second period on McDavid’s penalty shot just inside the left post.

That play was set up as the teams were skating four-on-four, and Reinhart turned the puck over. That led to a McDavid breakaway, which became a penalty shot when he was tripped by Gustav Forsling.

Florida tied the score just 68 seconds later. Oilers defenseman Philip Broberg slipped, and Mikkola took advantage, skating down the left wing and slapping the puck in off the body of Pickard.

The Panthers took their first lead of the game, 4-3, with 6:18 left in the second. Pickard stopped the first two shots in the sequence before Stenlund’s low shot got past the goalie’s glove.

–Field Level Media