CALGARY – Jay Bouwmeester said there was nothing fancy about his third-period goal that propelled Florida to a 3-2 win over the Calgary Flames on Tuesday, but new Panthers coach Peter DeBoer at least seemed impressed.
“He’s a world-class player and we’re glad we’ve got him,” said DeBoer. “I’m just getting to know him, but you appreciate him even more when you are coaching him behind the bench, how good a player he is.”
The six-foot-four, 214-pound blue-liner put Florida ahead with 3:27 left to play with a nice individual effort. He cut towards the net and backhanded a shot that just squeaked into the short side past Flames goalie Curtis McElhinney.
“I just got a pass and I didn’t really have a whole lot of room, just kind of threw it at the net,” said the Florida defenceman. “Throw it at the net and good things happen sometimes.”
After a scoreless first period, David Booth notched the first goal of the game for Florida at 1:19 of the second period before Calgary responded with goals by Dustin Boyd and Jarome Iginla to take a 2-1 lead into the second intermission.
Rostislav Olesz then tied the game for the Panthers at 10:14 of the final frame to set the stage for Bouwmeester’s game-winner.
“It’s always a little scary at first, but once you get your legs under you and get the first period over with, it’s kind of back to normal,” said Bouwmeester in regards to the first pre-season game for both teams.
“For the first game I think we did alright.”
Florida goalie Craig Anderson made 24 saves to record the win, while McElhinney stopped 22 of 25 shots in a losing cause.
Boyd finished the game with two points as he also set up Iginla’s power-play goal late in the second period.
“We blew that lead and that just can’t happen,” said Boyd, who’s scheduled to suit up for the Flames again Wednesday night in his hometown of Winnipeg when Calgary faces off against the Phoenix Coyotes at the MTS Centre.
“To wear the Flaming C there, it’ll be even better than before,” said Boyd, who’s played games in Winnipeg previously as a member of the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors and the AHL’s Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights.
Todd Bertuzzi started the game on a line with Iginla and 19-year-old Swedish prospect Mikael Backlund.
Calgary fans gave Bertuzzi, who signed a one-year contract with the Flames on July 7, a rousing ovation when introduced.
Boyd got the Flames on the board at 13:02 of the middle frame when he converted a feed from Jamie Lundmark. The Flames then took a 2-1 lead in the final minute of the second period when Boyd spotted Iginla streaking towards the net and hit him with a cross-ice pass. The Calgary captain then cut around Florida defenceman Karlis Skrastins and roofed a puck over Anderson for a power-play goal.
Bertuzzi had a chance to put the Flames ahead by two in the third period when he broke in alone on Anderson, but he shot the puck high and wide.
A short time later, Olesz took a nice pass from Anthony Stewart in front of the net before depositing the puck in the net past a sprawling McElhinney.
Notes: The Flames will now play back-to-back games against the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday night in Winnipeg and on Thursday back at the Pengrowth Saddledome. While the Flames are in the midst of a four-games-in-four-nights stretch, the Panthers also have a hectic schedule as Tuesday’s game kicked off a stretch of six consecutive road pre-season games. Florida will play back-to-back games in Edmonton against the Oilers before returning to face the Flames in Calgary on Friday night.