SNAPSHOTS: Flames beat Panthers in first game since big trade

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SUNRISE, Fla. — A standing ovation was expected, but this one came particularly early. As the last of the Calgary Flames to leave the ice in Saturday’s pre-game warm-up, Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar were treated to a loud and grateful roar from what was once their home crowd.

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A few hours later, at the end of a moving and entertaining affair, Huberdeau heard boos. It was nothing personal – fans at the FLA Live Arena laughed at each of the Flames’ shootout selections.

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And then the best part…

When Huberdeau sizzled a block-side shot past his old pal Spencer Knight, there was momentary silence. It was the same story when defender Rasmus Andersson scored after a nasty fake in the fifth round of the breakaway competition, lifting the not-so-tanned side to a 5-4 shootout triumph in the Flames’ first encounter and the Florida Panthers ever since. successful summer trade.

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“I’ve probably never fired in a shootout before, so I know Knighter thought I’d probably deke,” Huberdeau explained. “So that’s why I fired, to surprise him.

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“It was good and obviously here I wanted to win. It was huge, to score the goal in a shootout here. It was cool.”

Indeed, it will be remembered as a happy homecoming.

There were warm and fuzzy ones during the warm-up. “Pretty special”, as Huberdeau said.

The ending was even better.

“I really wanted to beat those guys,” Weegar said. “I feel like it’s a vintage Panthers game – 5-4 in a shootout. We had a lot of those games on the other side. I’m glad we got the two points, it was the most important thing for me and Johnny. It was a weird game, but it was a lot of fun. I liked it.”

Lots of them have — and not just the guys who once owned beachfront property in the Sunshine State.

Adam Ruzicka had two goals and added an assist, continuing to capitalize on his promotion to skate on the Flames’ top line and second power play unit.

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Nikita Zadorov and Blake Coleman also tickled the strings for the Outsiders, while Jacob Markstrom was particularly snappy in the shootout.

Old friend Matthew Tkachuk, who headed south in the first sign-and-trade in NHL history, scored on a deft deflection and assisted on Sam Reinhart’s human-advantage marker, but he was disallowed in the tiebreaker game and ended up on the losing side. Colin White and Eetu Luostarinen were the Panthers’ other sharpshooters.

Andersson, the workaholic running back with 17 career goals in seven NHL seasons, has proven to be Calgary’s secret weapon.

“He scores in the shootout every practice. It’s a padlock,” beamed Weegar. “Right away, when he was chosen, I had a good feeling.”

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They all came away with a good feeling, and it certainly didn’t seem like a sure thing for a team that had lost their previous 10 games. The Flames improved their record to 8-7-2.

“Obviously there’s a lot of emotion for a lot of guys today, but it was really good to win,” Andersson said. “It’s a move I’ve been doing for a while. I took a few shootouts in Stockton (in the AHL) and it worked back then, but that was a long time ago. It was nice to see him come in and, honestly, it’s just nice to get a win. It was really necessary. »

AROUND THE BOARDS

There were plenty of fans who still wore number 11, the numbers Huberdeau donned during his decade-long stay in Florida. He left as the franchise record holder in both games played and points. “I didn’t expect to have so many shirts there,” Huberdeau said with a smile. “It was cool to see that”… Weegar on the warm welcome, which also included a standing ovation after a video tribute in first period to ex-Panthers duo: ‘They showed us a lot of love, and it really meant a lot to me’… Almost any other day, Adam Ruzicka’s three-point pileup would have been the big one story. He capped a scrambled streak on the power play with a goal from the glove side and then ripped a quick jab past Knight after a playoff win by teammate Elias Lindholm. In between, the 23-year-old left-winger spotted Zadorov scrambling up the ice as the caravan rushed offensively and offered the pass to his blue-line buddy, who cashed in the five hole. Ruzicka, despite being retired for 10 of the first 11 games this fall, now has eight points this season – the same number as Huberdeau and more than Coleman, Dillon Dube, Andrew Mangiapane and others. “But it’s still a short time, isn’t it?” Ruzicka highlighted the post-match. “Three or four games are not enough. I just have to keep going until the end of the season.

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OUT OF THE GLASS

Flames skipper Darryl Sutter was proud of his team, saying “we weathered a lot of adversity during the game”. He frowned when asked about the obvious storyline – Huberdeau and Weegar returning to their old stomping grounds. . “Guys are traded. Guys sign. What is the problem ? I mean, Nazem (Kadri) won a Stanley Cup last year and he played his first game against Colorado and it wasn’t a big deal, first game of the year, but it’s a big problem ? I mean, good players move, that’s what they do. I’ve said it before – someone give you $75 million, we’re all going”… Markstrom, who started his career with the Panthers, made 31 saves in the visiting crease. He delivered four denials in the shootout, including a superb hitch after Tkachuk blasted a slapper in turn… Brett Ritchie made an early exit. The fourth-line hitter wasn’t on the bench for the third… The Flames can now drag their shorts and flip-flops to the bottom of their suitcases. The next stop in that six-game junket is Philadelphia, where they face the Flyers on Monday (5 p.m. MT, Sportsnet Flames/Sportsnet 960 The Fan).

[email protected]

Twitter.com/WesGilbertson

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