EDMONTON (CBSMiami/AP) – When the calendar flipped to 2015, the Florida Panthers knew they’d start the New Year with a very tough test.
A season-long six game road trip through western Canada can be a daunting task for any team, but the team that calls South Florida home didn’t think twice about it.
Simply put, the Panthers seem to feel at home on the road lately.
Brian Campbell scored the go-ahead goal in the second period, and the Panthers got two more scores in the third period to win their third straight with a 4-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday night.
Tomas Kopecky, Jimmy Hayes and Sean Bergenheim also scored for the Panthers, who are 4-1 through the first five games of a six-game road trip.
“I don’t think we were at our best tonight, but we found a way to get it done,” Campbell said. “It’s a big game, getting towards the end of the trip, you have to keep the pedal down.”
Jussi Jokinen added a pair of assists, and Roberto Luongo made 31 saves for Florida, which plays at Winnipeg on Tuesday.
“We’ve got four balanced lines,” Luongo said. “They’ve been chipping in offensively, which is nice and we’ve been finding ways to win hockey games. We have one more big game left on this trip, so we’ll enjoy tonight and refocus on the next one.”
Panthers coach Gerard Gallant thought the win was a good example of a team-first approach.
“That’s how you’re going to win with our hockey team,” he said. “You look at our lineup, we don’t have an 80, 90-point guy, so we have a bunch of guys chipping in, working hard.”
Jordan Eberle and Benoit Pouliot scored for the Oilers, who have won just four times in their last 28 games.
“We had some very costly errors at bad times,” Oilers assistant captain Taylor Hall said. “That was our downfall. I don’t think we played bad. I just thought there were some really key moments in the game where we didn’t do our jobs.”
The Panthers got on the scoreboard four minutes into the first period as a defensive breakdown allowed Hayes to pick up a loose puck in front of the Edmonton net before spinning around and beating Ben Scrivens for his 13th goal.
Florida came close to adding to its lead with six minutes to play in the first when Jonathan Huberdeau’s shot rang off the post behind Scrivens.
After Scrivens made a huge save on a 2-on-1 to start the second period, Edmonton tied it at 1 four minutes in as several Oilers had whacks at a loose puck during a scramble in front of the Panthers net before Eberle was able to flip in a backhand shot for his 11th goal.
Florida made it 2-1 seven minutes into the second as Campbell’s wrist shot from the point deflected off of the stick of the Oilers’ Matt Hendricks and fooled Scrivens, who didn’t even wave at it.
The teams traded goals just 32 seconds apart a few minutes into the third period.
Florida made it 3-1 as it won a race for a puck behind the Edmonton net before Derek MacKenzie fed it in front to set up a quick one-timer goal by Kopecky.
The Oilers responded quickly with a delayed penalty coming their way as Pouliot scored his second goal in as many games during another scramble in front of the Florida net.
The Panthers took a two-goal lead with 4 1/2 minutes to play as Nail Yakupov had the puck stolen and it hopped over the stick of Andrew Ference, allowing Bergenheim to walk in and tuck the puck past Scrivens.
“I felt like we were going to come back in that game and then a couple of turnovers on one play and it ends up in the back of our net,” Eberle said. “That’s what happens when you do that in this league.”
NOTES: It was the first of two games between the teams this year, the second coming on Jan. 17. Edmonton won both matchups with the Panthers last year with Oilers C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins recording five assists in the two games. … Florida came into the game without a win in Edmonton since Dec. 11, 2008. … Scrivens was playing in his fourth career game against the Panthers, having recorded two shutouts in his previous three starts against Florida. … Panthers C Aleksander Barkov missed the game with the flu, while Shawn Thornton remained out with a groin injury. The lone injury for Edmonton was forward Tyler Pitlick (lacerated spleen).
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