Florida Panthers

Florida Panthers outlast Calgary Flames in back-and-forth contest

Florida Panthers' Brad Boyes, second from right, celebrates his goal with teammates, from left, Willie Mitchell, Jonathan Huberdeau and Vincent Trocheck during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Calgary Flames on Jan. 9, 2015, in Calgary, Alberta.
Florida Panthers' Brad Boyes, second from right, celebrates his goal with teammates, from left, Willie Mitchell, Jonathan Huberdeau and Vincent Trocheck during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Calgary Flames on Jan. 9, 2015, in Calgary, Alberta. AP

Al Montoya sat in his locker stall, half of his gear on the floor.

The Panthers' goalie was battered and exhausted Friday night, yet he mustered a smile when talking about his teammates.

Most goalies wouldn't be in a talkative mood after giving up five goals. But when your team scores six, well, that makes it easier to move on.

"It's great, I'm glad we won and I'm not going to think too much about it,'' Montoya said after Florida's wild 6-5 win over Calgary late Friday night at the Saddledome.

"These guys battled for me. Some nights you feel great and can't get a win. Tonight I didn't feel great and they got me one. My hat is off to them. They stuck with it and believed we were going to win this game. Not every team can do that. This team believes in each other.''

Friday's game had six lead changes and would not be confused for a goaltending exhibition.

Both the Panthers and Flames seemed to score whenever needed as the lead changed hands six times.

When Florida gets into a track meet game, the results usually aren't positive.

"I had a rough night,'' said coach Gerard Gallant, whose team won in Vancouver the night before.

"It was a long night and a frustrating night but I thought we played well coming off a back-to-back. We put a lot of pucks at the net. I was satisfied.''

Friday, the Panthers kept coming and coming. Calgary's Jonas Hiller definitely fared worse than a jet-lagged Montoya did.

Montoya's wife gave birth to a son on Monday morning and he flew from South Florida to Vancouver on Wednesday. At times, it looked like it.

"I think they had one shot for eight minutes in the first period and they scored on it,'' said Brian Campbell, whose third period goal gave Florida a short-lived 5-4 lead.

"We outplayed them but made some mistakes and it cost us. Things just snowballed on us.''

The game was tied at 4 heading into the third and it appeared Campbell was going to give the Panthers a win when he scored a controversial goal.

Campbell's 50-foot shot may or may not have hit the high stick of teammate Sean Bergenheim before hitting Hiller and finding the back of the net.

The play went to review in Toronto but it was ruled inconclusive whether Bergenheim's outstretched stick made contact with the puck.

Campbell said he saw the puck fly and hit Hiller's blocker before popping behind him; Bergenheim didn't want to comment. Although with the game in the books, he really can't self-incriminate himself now.

"Well, yeah, I have no comment,'' Bergenheim said. "I don't want to even speculate on it. They see on the video what's true and what's not. I knew it was a long review but I didn't think it wouldn't count.''

Added Campbell: "That's the first bounce I've had on the offensive side this season. I'll take it.''

Regardless, Florida's lead once again didn't hold up for long as the Flames tied it with 3:54 remaining.

As they had all night, the Panthers kept coming and grabbed their final lead of the game less than a minute later when Dave Bolland fed Tomas Fleischmann in the slot.

Fleischmann shoveled the puck past Hiller and the Panthers were up 1 with 3:09 left.

"It was so good to see that,'' Campbell said. "Flash works so hard. He needed some puck luck there.''

The final few minutes matched the previous 58 for intensity as Calgary got a late power play chance and had six skaters attacking Montoya with an empty net.

Florida held tight — Jussi Jokinen made a huge block on a T.J. Brodie shot — and escaped with another road win.

"That was back-to-back for us and we really battled back,'' Jokinen said. "Even though Montoya gave up five goals, he made some really big saves especially at the end.''

The Panthers are 3-1-0 through the first four of this six-game road trip which continues Sunday in Edmonton and concludes Tuesday in Winnipeg.

"We did alright out west in California and need to keep this thing going,'' Campbell said. "It's a good challenge to see how many points you can get, how many wins you can take.''


Gallant knew Dmitry Kulikov was going to miss Friday's game with a case of the flu but the team's second victim came as quite a surprise.

Aleksander Barkov was forced to come off the ice during warmups. The Panthers quickly called Vincent Trocheck to tell him he was playing.

Since he thought he was a scratch, he and Brandon Pirri were taking their time in getting to the arena.

He would quickly get on his horse.

"We left the hotel at 6:30, grabbed some dinner. Luckily I stayed light and got a salad,'' said Trocheck, who was sporting a nasty cut near his right eye after being checked into the boards in the first.

"There was a ton of traffic on the way here and we were going slow. Then they wouldn't let us into the gate and we had to walk with all of our luggage. It was a day, I guess. That's a first.''

Trocheck made it to the Panthers bench just as the anthems had finished. He took Barkov's spot centering Huberdeau and Boyes.

"I literally ran through the halls,'' Trocheck said. "I was in the cab at 6:57 and on the ice by 7:04.''

▪  The Panthers trailed 1-0 just 2:42 into the game but took a 2-1 advantage on first period goals by Jonathan Huberdeau (his third in two nights) and Brad Boyes. Calgary tied it going into the second on Brodie's first.

Florida got goals from Bergenheim and Jimmy Hayes in the third to tie the score going into the third.

▪  Florida had nine players on the scoresheet with Huberdeau (goal, assist), Boyes (same), Fleischmann (ditto), Bergenheim (two assists) and Bolland (two helpers too) hitting the sheet twice apiece.

▪  The Panthers and Calgary seem to enjoy high-scoring affairs with one another as the Flames topped the Panthers 6-4 in November.

In two games this season, the Flames and Panthers combined for 21 goals.

▪  The Panthers are 3-0 this year when scoring six goals and have now beaten Anaheim, Toronto and Calgary when doing so.

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