SUNRISE — When the Florida Panthers and Edmonton Oilers faced off on Saturday afternoon, the superstars were on full display with Stanley C. Panther’s birthday celebration underway.
The NHL’s leading scorer going into the afternoon, Jonathan Huberdeau, was trying to stave off Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid, who each trailed him by one point.
Stanley did not go home from his birthday celebration happy as Edmonton beat the Panthers 4-3.
McDavid picked up two assists while Huberdeau and Draisaitl each picked up one point.
After dropping their last two games, the Panthers are on just their second three-game regulation losing streak of the season, with the other coming from Dec. 12-16.
Florida’s superstars will also be on display for a national audience more often.
On Friday, the NHL announced that Florida’s game against the Detroit Red Wings on March 5 — the final game of this five-game homestand — will be moved from Bally Sports Florida and will be exclusive to ESPN+ and Hulu.
The Panthers now have three games remaining on the exclusive streaming partner of the NHL: March 5 against the Red Wings, March 15 at San Jose and April 21 against Detroit.
Other games (specifically April 24 against Tampa Bay) could be moved to ABC.
The Panthers dominated play in the early going of the first period, leading 8-0 in shots by the nine-minute mark of the frame.
It was until McDavid put up two shots after a breakaway attempt with 10:17 to go in the period that the Oilers would get their first shot.
However, it was Edmonton who got the scoring started, with Derek Ryan converting on a 2-on-1 with Warren Foegele to take the early lead with 9:46 to go in the first.
Anton Lundell answered back, receiving a no-look, between-the-legs pass from Frank Vatrano and potting the feed past Mikko Koskinen to make it a 1-1 game with 8:10 remaining in the opening period.
Draisaitl tripped Sam Bennett with 3:39 to go in the first period, sending the Panthers to the power play for the first time.
Florida’s power play was 1-7 since returning home from their three-game road trip on Tuesday, including going 0-6 in their last six tries.
Sasha Barkov broke the streak, retrieving an Anthony Duclair rebound and tapping it into the net seven seconds into the man advantage to give Florida the 2-1 lead.
The Panthers continued to dominate play in the first period, leading 19-7 in shots, 17-11 in scoring chances, and 9-4 in high-danger scoring chances by the time the buzzer sounded.
Edmonton got its first power play opportunity after Florida took a too many men on the ice penalty 58 seconds into the second period.
However, it was the Panthers who dominated play on the ensuing penalty kill.
Starting with a steal leading to a 2-on-1 with Barkov and Lundell, the Panthers outshot the Oilers 3-0 on their own power play.
After an unsuccessful second power play of the game for Florida, Edmonton struck back.
Ryan got his second goal of the game with a wrist shot from just above the face-off circle that squeaked past Sergei Bobrovsky 7:29 into the second period.
MacKenzie Weegar took an interference penalty nine minutes into the second period, sending the Oilers to the power play for the second time.
This time, Edmonton’s star-studded power play made the Panthers pay when Draisaitl notched his 36th goal and 74th point of the season — tying Huberdeau in points in the process — to give the Oilers a 3-2 lead with 9:56 to go in the second period.
McDavid also drew even with Huberdeau and Draisaitl at the top of the points list with an assist on the goal.
The Panthers got their third power play of the game after Lundell got tripped by Draisaitl while trying to streak out for a breakaway with 4:37 to go in the period.
They were unable to convert.
Ryan scored his third goal of the game with 46 seconds left on a give-and-go play with Evander Kane to make it a 4-2 game, scoring the first hat trick of his career.
McDavid also got his second assist of the game, notching his 75th point and holding sole possession of the NHL points crown.
Still, the Panthers held a 35-16 lead in shots after the second period, also leading 23-11 in scoring chances and 11-8 in high-danger chances.
After a slow start to the third period for both sides, the Panthers went to the power play 6:59 into the period after Kane took a cross-checking penalty.
Florida mustered up two shots on the man advantage, but could not convert. They fell to 1-4 on the power play on the day.
Vatrano sent Carter Verhaeghe on a breakaway with 10:21 to go, but Koskinen came up with the glove save to preserve Edmonton’s two-goal lead.
Koskinen made another crucial save after Barkov received a backdoor pass with a wide-open net with 4:22 to further put the dagger into Florida’s hopes.
Panthers interim coach Andrew Brunette made the aggressive decision to pull Bobrovsky for the extra attacker just after the Koskinen save and Huberdeau drew a tripping penalty just seven seconds later.
Barkov brought the Panthers back within a goal with his second power play goal of the game off of a feed from Huberdeau.
The assist extended his assist streak to 10 games, a Panthers franchise record.
It was too little, too late, however.
The Panthers were unable to convert after going 6-on-5 again for the last two-and-a-half minutes.
Koskinen had 44 saves on 47 shots while stopping Florida from breaking its losing streak.
COLBY’S THREE STARS OF THE GAME
1. Derek Ryan, Edmonton
2. Mikko Koskinen, Edmonton
3. Connor McDavid, Edmonton