EDMONTON – The Edmonton Oilers had no trouble bombarding Florida Panthers goaltender Craig Anderson with shots – and he had an even easier time stopping them.
Anderson made 41 saves for his third shutout of the season as the Panthers earned a 2-0 victory over the Oilers on Thursday night. While the Oilers finished with a 41-16 advantage in shots, most of them turned out to be harmless.
“We might have had five chances in the game that were real opportunities,” said veteran Edmonton defenceman Sheldon Souray. “The other ones we were just kind of floating in there.
“There were no rebounds, he was seeing everything. He made the saves he had to make but I don’t think he really stole the show for them. We just didn’t pay the price enough.”
Oilers forward Erik Cole lamented his team’s inability to disrupt Anderson.
“We didn’t have guys going to the front of the net with purpose,” said Cole. “This is the National Hockey League. If the goaltender sees all the shots chances are there aren’t going to be any rebounds.
“It’s a game we think we should have won. Tonight was certainly frustrating.”
Edmonton (13-12-2) saw its three-game winning streak come to an end and fell below .500 at home for the season (3-4-2).
“We’re a young team,” Souray said. “We’re going to make mistakes. But we certainly don’t want to keep repeating the same mistakes. We’ll keep working on it. We’ll keep hammering the message home. Sooner or later we’ve got to get it.
We didn’t want to come out like that for sure. It was just a lousy performance.”
Stephen Weiss and Radek Dvorak scored for Florida (13-12-3), which has won two straight to open a five-game road trip and had just one regulation loss in its last nine (6-1-2).
Panthers head coach Peter DeBoer felt his team definitely deserved the win, despite the difference in shots.
“I thought we played a good road game,” said DeBoer. “I don’t look at the shot clock.
“They’re a fast team they’ve been off for four days we knew they were going to throw a lot of speed at us. I thought we kept a lot of their shots to the perimeter. I thought we handled the rebounds really well and when we didn’t I thought our six defencemen were outstanding.”
Anderson, who has a 10-1-4 career record when he faces 40 or more shots in a game, also credited the defence corps.
“The one thing we did really well was clean up the rebounds and let me see the first shot,” he said. “Our defencemen did a really good job and even our forwards coming back to clean up some of the rebounds and beating their guys to the puck. It helped the team get the win.”
Weiss credited his team for playing a solid 60 minutes of hockey.
“We’re going good,” Weiss said. “We’re doing the little things really well. We’re blocking shots and everyone’s on the same page and we’re all moving in the right direction, the same direction.
“When you get 20 guys playing that way, you’re going to have a good chance to win every night. With the goaltending we’re getting, hopefully we can just keep going.”
The teams played to a scoreless first period in which the Oilers outshot Florida 13-4. Edmonton had a good chance early in the second as Ales Hemsky was sprung on a breakaway, but Anderson made a clutch save.
Florida finally broke the deadlock with five minutes to play in the second period on a power play, as Weiss blew a one-timer past Oilers netminder Mathieu Garon from the top of the face-off circle.
The Oilers continued to press in the third but couldn’t get one past Anderson. Dvorak added a late empty-netter to secure the victory for Florida.
The Panthers play the third game of their five-game road trip on Friday in Calgary. Edmonton remains home to host the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday.
Notes: After playing much of the first quarter of the season on the road, the Oilers will enjoy plenty of home-ice action. Edmonton plays 18 of its next 23 at Rexall Place. … Second year forward Sam Gagner was back in the Edmonton lineup after missing two games with a concussion. The 19-year-old skated on a fourth line unit with Liam Reddox and Gilbert Brule. … The Panthers are banged up, but help is on the way. Five injured players -David Booth (shoulder), Cory Stillman (post-concussion), Nathan Horton (laceration), Richard Zednik (elbow) and Cory Murphy (shoulder) – all practised Wednesday, and are expected back soon. … Jay Bouwmeester entered the game leading the Panthers with 16 points. He is the only defenceman to lead his team in scoring.