Panthers eye needed victory over struggling Oilers

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( - The Florida Panthers hope to return to the win column Saturday when they host the sliding Edmonton Oilers in an interconference battle at BB&T Center.

Florida's last win came last Saturday in Edmonton, as Tomas Kopecky and Sean Bergenheim scored third-period goals to help the Panthers notch the 4-2 victory at Rexall Place. However, the Panthers are 0-2 since that win and have been outscored by a 12-4 margin in those setbacks.

After closing a six-game road trip with a lopsided 8-2 loss in Winnipeg on Tuesday, the Panthers returned home to drop a 4-2 decision in Thursday's clash with Colorado.

Florida rallied from deficits of 1-0 and 2-1 to knot the score at 2-2 by the end of 40 minutes, but Colorado scored twice in the third period to earn the victory. Nick Holden scored the go-ahead goal on the power play at 11:03 of the third and Jarome Iginla added an empty-netter for the Avalanche in the final minute.

Holden fired a point shot that deflected in off the stick of Panthers forward Scottie Upshall with one second left on a power play.

"I thought we worked hard, and we played good. I thought we were as good a team as they were, if not a little bit better," said Panthers coach Gerard Gallant. "Disappointed to see that power-play goal happen late in the game."

Roberto Luongo stopped 25-of-28 shots for Florida, which opened a five-game homestand following a 4-2-0 road trip. Aleksander Barkov and Aaron Ekblad scored the goals for the Panthers.

Florida, which is five points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, fell to 9-6-3 as the host.

Luongo is expected to start tonight and is 27-12-3 with a 2.29 goals against average in his career against the Oilers. Florida's No. 1 netminder stopped 31-of-33 shots in last week's win in Edmonton.

Florida's triumph last Saturday at Rexall Place halted a five-game slide in the series and was just the second win for the Panthers in the last 11 meetings.

Edmonton has won in each of its last five trips to BB&T Center, but the last four wins of that stretch have come after regulation. Florida's last home win over the Oilers came in a 5-4 regulation decision on March 8, 2002.

The Oilers, however, are just 2-12-7 on the road this season, and have lost 14 straight as the guest after dropping the first two games of a four-game trek that ends Tuesday in Washington.

Edmonton dropped its third straight game overall in Thursday's 3-2 loss against Tampa Bay. The Oilers actually outshot the Atlantic Division-leading Lightning 32-19 in the game, but Ben Bishop made 30 saves to help Tampa pick up the close regulation win.

The Oilers held leads of 1-0 and 2-1 against Tampa, but the Lightning rallied for the win thanks to a pair of third-period goals from Ondrej Palat.

Edmonton received a pair of goals from Benoit Pouliot, but could not tie the game late. Pouliot has six tallies during a four-game goal streak

Ben Scrivens made 16 saves on 19 shots in the loss.

"We had some great scoring opportunities, especially in the second," said Oilers coach Todd Nelson. "We hit a couple posts and just didn't bury those chances. In the third, I think Tampa Bay cranked it up a notch."

The Oilers haven't won on the road since beating the New York Rangers on Nov. 9. The 0-8-6 away skid is the longest road losing streak in franchise history.