Panthers outgun Flames for wild 6-5 road win

Off nights from Montoya and Hiller open the floodgates in Calgary.

A day after grinding out a tough two points in Vancouver, the Florida Panthers had to get offensive to pull out a 6-5 win over the Calgary Flames at a sold out Scotiabank Saddledome.

Jonathan Huberdeau, Brad Boyes, Sean Bergenheim and Tomas Fleischmann each had a goal and assist to power the Cats' uncharacteristic burst of offense. Gritty pivot Dave Bolland chipped in two helpers.

The Flames got the party started at 2:42 of the opening period. Aaron Ekblad made a big rookie mistake, turning the puck over to Matt Stajan. Stajan quickly fired the puck past Al Montoya, who was making his first start of 2015.

Calgary returned the favor with Boyes taking a Jonas Hiller gaffe behind the cage and feeding Huberdeau in front to tie the game at one.

Later in the frame, Huberdeau picked up another another turnover on the boards and whipped a pass to Boyes, who deflected the puck past Hiller to give Florida the lead.

The advantage would not last long as defenseman T.J. Brodie would rip a shot from the top of the circle off Montoya's pad and into the back of the net to even things up 3:24 later with the Calgary on a power play.

With Flames applying early pressure, Mikael Backlund jammed home a rebound 2:27 into the second period to put the home side back on top by a 3-2 count.

The resilient Panthers countered just 19 seconds later courtesy of Bergenheim, who the stole the puck in the Calgary end, and after Bolland fed Fleischmann, Flash found Bergy open in front of his sixth of the season.

Brodie restored Calgary's lead later in the stanza, hammering a slap shot form the point that dribbled through Montoya's pads for his second of the night.

Florida equalized again at the 17:05 mark when Jimmy Hayes took a pass from Jussi Jokinen and blasted the puck behind Hiller. Erik Gudbranson picked up the secondary helper on Hayes' career-high 12th goal and 19th point.

The Panthers clawed their way to a 5-4 lead midway through the third when Brian Campbell's floater from the point eluded Hiller. The goal, Campbell's second, went to review as it looked like Bergenheim might have deflected it with ah high-stick, but stood up. Thank you, Toronto.

Stajan would pot his second of the tilt, flipping home a David Jones rebound from in close, with 3:54 remaining to forge yet another tie.

Fleischmann would provide the game-winner 45 seconds later, scoring off a goal-mouth scramble from Bolland and Bergenheim, on the backhand for his fifth of the campaign.

Montoya and Campbell would combine on a key moment with time running out to prevent Calgary from sending the game to overtime. Montoya stopped Joe Colborne's bank-shot attempt, but the puck got behind him and Soup was there to push the puck under the goaltender to get a whistle.

The win pushed the Cats record to 3-1 on the road trip with upcoming games in Edmonton and Winnipeg providing more pluck-able fruit. The Panthers, who are currently tied with the Toronto Maple with 47 points, closed within a point of the Boston Bruins for the final playoff slot in the east. Florida has three games in hand on both teams. Look out above.

Odds & Ends

  • Not sure if it's rust, the opponent, or maybe a combination of both, but Al Montoya, who finished with 25 saves, is looking rather Dan Ellis-like to me lately. This is the second time the Flames have made Montoya look bad this season. He wasn't particularly stout in his last start against the Rangers and quickly surrendered the eventual game-winner in relief against the Capitals. know it's not his fault that he doesn't play more, but Montoya has to do a better job, like he did earlier in the campaign, when giving Roberto Luongo a night off.
  • Aleksander Barkov and Dmitry Kulikov missed the game with the flu. Erik Gudbranson returned to the lineup and finished with an impressive +3 rating in addition to his assist. Vincent Trocheck filled in for Barkov and registered one shot. Sure is nice to have real depth on the team, isn't it?
  • T.J. Brodie's first period tally broke a 16-game drought and his second gave him the first multi-goal game of his career.
  • Coming off his best game of the season in Vancouver, Jonathan Huberdeau's goal and helper gave him 10 points in his last 9 games.
  • Jonas Hiller, who made 29 stops, fell to 13-13-2 on the season.
  • Mickael Backlund has scored in two straight games after missing 29 with an abdominal injury. The Flames are happy to have the slick forward back in the fold.
  • Nick Bjugstad led the Cats with 5 shots on goal and went 12 of 21 in the face-off dot.
  • For more on Florida's dousing of the Flames, visit Matchsticks and Gasoline.