CALGARY – Olli Jokinen had two goals and an assist but it was Theoren Fleury’s shootout winner that electrified Flames fans as Calgary downed the New York Islanders 5-4 on Thursday.
In a pre-season game with playoff intensity, it was hard to tell the outcome didn’t count in the standings.
In a fitting finish to Fleury’s first NHL game in six years, the 41-year-old scored the only goal of the shootout on a deke to his forehand, tucking the puck behind Islanders rookie goaltender Kevin Poulin.
Fleury was first off the bench to hug goaltender David Shantz after he turned aside Greg Moore’s final attempt, clinching the victory.
As chants of “Theo, Theo” filled the Pengrowth Saddledome, Fleury acknowledged the supportive crowd clapping his own hands together and nodding to the crowd in appreciation.
With the pre-season debuts of Jarome Iginla, Miikka Kiprusoff, and off-season free-agent signing Jay Bouwmeester, there was plenty of other storylines for the Flames.
However, the talking point on the night – besides Fleury – turned out to be a worrisome injury to 21-year-old Islanders forward Kyle Okposo, who was removed from the ice on a stretcher after being knocked out early in the second period by a thunderous hit by Flames defenceman Dion Phaneuf.
Okposo, the seventh pick in the 2006 Draft, remained motionless on the ice for over six minutes as he was attended to by trainers from both teams and other medical personnel.
Immobilized onto a spinal board, he was taken off the ice by stretcher to the quiet applause of the crowd of 19,289.
A medical update was not immediately available.
After the hit, New York forward Pascal Morency jumped off the Islanders bench and charged Phaneuf but was intercepted by Calgary’s Mark Giordano. A small melee ensued, that included Islanders goalie Martin Biron. Morency was given a game misconduct.
Phaneuf remained the target of the Islanders the rest of the period as the intensity picked up and two more fights took place.
With Calgary trailing 4-3, Jokinen picked up his third point of the night at 7:49 after his shot was neatly tipped in by Moss.
Matt Moulson had two goals to lead the offence for New York (0-2-1). Also scoring was Blake Comeau and Trevor Smith.
Nigel Dawes added a goal and two assists for Calgary (1-1-0).
Kiprusoff played the game’s first half and looked rusty giving up three goals on 10 shots.
On the Islanders first goal, Bouwmeester got pulled out of position by Josh Bailey as he set up Smith’s tip-in and later turned the puck over to Moulson, who was stopped on a breakaway.
The best goaltender on the night was Poulin, who turned aside 16 of 17 third-period shots and all seven faced in overtime as Calgary pressed for the go-ahead goal.
Notes: The same two teams meet again Saturday night in Saskatoon. … Calgary rookie Michael Backlund opened the game playing the left side on a line with Jokinen and Iginla. … Fleury’s linemates most of the night were Dawes and Daymond Langkow… The power-plays for both teams were sharp with Calgary going 3-for-7 and New York 2-for-5.