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EDMONTON (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – The streak just keeps on growing.
Make it a dozen for the hottest team in the National Hockey League.
The Florida Panthers directed only 14 shots on goal, but goals from right winger Jaromir Jagr and center Jonathan Huberdeau paced them to a 2-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday.
Two goals has proven to be enough to win when Al Montoya is manning Florida’s crease. He’s given up just one goal in each of his last five starts, all wins, and improved his record to 7-1-1 on the season.
It was the Panthers’ 12th consecutive win — making them the first team with a streak that long since the Boston Bruins during the 2013-14 season.
Just 3:22 into the first period, the ageless Jagr scored on a breakaway. The 43-year-old actually lost control of the puck as he bore down on Oilers goalie Cam Talbot, but he still managed to slide a shot between the netminder’s pads.
Jagr scored his 737th career goal, putting him just four behind Brett Hull for third on the NHL’s all-time goals list.
The Oilers thought they tied the game at 6:39 of the first when left winger Taylor Hall’s laser beam of a wrist shot went off the post and in.
However, Panthers coach Gerard Gallant challenged the play, and the video review showed that right winger Teddy Purcell was offside, so the goal was waved off.
It was a massive momentum swing, as just seconds later the Panthers made it 2-0, with Huberdeau tapping in a pass from center Aleksander Barkov. The Panthers scored twice on their first three shots of the night.
“Yeah that was huge,” Huberdeau said. “Lucky on our side there was an offside, and after, we scored right away. It’s good for momentum.”
Oilers center Mark Letestu halved the lead at 12:32 of the first, scoring from the slot after some good grunt work on the boards by center Matt Hendricks.
The game featured three fights — two involving Hendricks — and many big hits. It was as if the two teams were divisional rivals, not clubs that only meet twice a season.
“There was definitely a stern, direct message in the dressing room about the way we were playing,” Letestu said. “There were some big hits, and it got physical. There was some pride shown as players stood up for each other.”
In the third, Hendricks drove Panthers star defenseman Aaron Ekblad into the end boards as the Oilers went tit-for-tat for a clean but fierce second-period hit that Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson delivered on Hall. After the hit on Ekblad, Panthers right winger Logan Shaw took on Hendricks.
“It got aggressive, that’s hockey for you,” Gudbranson said. “That’s what makes it fun, I guess, at the end of the day. With the exception of a couple of hits, that’s what hockey’s supposed to be about. It’s a tough game. It’s a man’s game.
“It’s kinda nice as a group to get into one of those the odd time. You don’t want the game to end up in bad hits and guys getting hurt, but as a group, you fight through something like that. And it certainly lifts your spirits in the dressing room.”
Hendricks felt he hit Ekblad legally.
“I’ve never been known to hit dirty,” he said. “I thought it was a clean hit. I’m glad he came back and played. I would feel bad if he had been injured.”
Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said it was difficult for his players to keep the lids on their emotions.
“It was challenging because the guys weren’t too happy and they didn’t like the way some of those calls weren’t getting called,” Gallant said. “But it’s about getting the two points, and we’ll take care of things when we take care of things.”
NOTES: Florida RW Jaromir Jagr has 40 career points in 35 regular-season games against the Oilers. … The Panthers opted to rest G Roberto Luongo so he could be fresh to start against his old team, the Vancouver Canucks, on Monday. … D Steven Kampfer (lower body) is on injured reserve for the Panthers, while C David Bolland was out with a lower-body injury. … The Panthers scratched LW Shawn Thornton. … The Oilers have four players on injured reserve: D Oscar Klefbom (undisclosed), D Andrew Ference (undisclosed), C Connor McDavid (broken clavicle) and RW Nail Yakupov (ankle). … The Oilers confirmed that neither Klefbom nor McDavid will return before the All-Star break. … Edmonton scratched LW Luke Gazdic and D Brad Hunt.
The Panthers face the Vancouver Canucks on Monday, January 11th at 10:00 p.m. You can hear every game on Sports Radio 560 WQAM, the radio home of the Florida Panthers.
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