SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Niko Mikkola had the first two-goal game of his career, Kevin Stenlund had a three-point effort and the Florida Panthers rallied to defeat Edmonton Oilers 5-3 on Monday night.
Stenlund had a goal and two assists for the Panthers, who have won six consecutive games at home and are 7-1-0 in their last eight games. Carter Verhaeghe and Sam Bennett also scored for Florida, and Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 25 shots.
Connor McDavid scored twice for the Oilers. Evander Kane also scored for Edmonton, and Calvin Pickard — making his first start since March 27, 2022 — stopped 27 shots.
The Oilers fell to 1-10-1 this season when allowing three or more goals.
“We are trying to keep the puck out of our net, obviously,” McDavid said. “That’s our main focus and we haven’t done that.”
Edmonton jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by McDavid and Kane. Verhaeghe and Mikkola tied it up for Florida, and McDavid scored on a penalty shot 5 minutes into the second period for a 3-2 lead.
It was the 52nd multigoal game of McDavid’s career and his first of the season. He was due for a breakout; the four goals he had entering Monday night represented the fewest he’d had through 14 games played to start any of his nine NHL seasons.
He was also due for a big game at Florida — McDavid entered Monday with only one goal in five appearances on the Panthers’ home ice.
But Mikkola tied it up for a second time just 1:08 after the penalty shot, and Stenlund put the Panthers up for good with 6:18 left in the second.
Mikkola had two goals, total, in his last 148 games played including playoffs entering Monday — spanning 2,559 minutes of ice time for the Finnish defenseman.
“The coaches and teammates trust you to jump up into the play every time you see it,” Mikkola said when asked about his offensive success. “We want to have one defenseman up in the play and get chances that way. I like it.”
It was Florida's second successful rally from a two-goal deficit this season, after coming from 2-0 down to top Seattle 3-2 on Oct. 28. Edmonton wasted a two-goal lead for third time this season and the second in as many games; the Oilers blew a 2-0 lead in what became a 6-4 loss Saturday at Tampa Bay.
The Panthers improved to 10-0-0 when leading with 5 minutes left in regulation. Bennett sealed it with an empty-netter with 42.6 seconds remaining, his first goal of the season after dealing with injuries for much of the early part of the year.
Florida was without captain Aleksander Barkov, who is listed as day-to-day. He took a knee-to-knee hit in Florida's win at Anaheim on Friday, and tests over the weekend showed he avoided serious injury.
“You can win on any given night no matter how many injuries you have, but you just can’t win long-term with key guys out,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said. “But the pro scouts have done a good job of finding players that fit the style of hockey we play and we brought in some key players that helped us survive.”
Oilers: Visit Carolina on Wednesday.
Panthers: Host Boston on Wednesday.
AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl
Colby Guy, The Associated Press