Flames Overcome Adversity To Win Huberdeau, Weegar Florida Homecoming
The Calgary Flames won 5-4 in a shootout on Saturday as Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar made their first trip back to Florida.
The game brought them right back to the old days. In the Calgary Flames’ first game in Florida featuring a couple of former Panthers in the lineup, the goals were fast and furious.
In the end, Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar got the best of Matthew Tkachuk.
But it took a shootout for the Flames to a wild 5-4 victory.
“I feel like that’s a vintage Panther game … lots of those games on the other side,” a relieved Weegar told reporters in the visitors’ room following the win.
“That was a weird game, but it was a lot of fun. I enjoyed it.”
Had things gone the other way, he might not have felt the same way.
But right from warmup, there was an energy in the building.
Anticipation for what was to come as Tkachuk, Huberdeau and Weegar faced each other from the other side following the massive summer trade.
Appreciation for the former Panthers, who got a nice round of cheers from many fans wearing their jerseys near the glass as Huberdeau and Weegar left the ice.
“Warmup, I thought it was special,” said Huberdeau, who is happy the homecoming is over. I didn’t expect that many jerseys out there.”
Weegar felt the same way.
“The fans in warmup were awesome. They showed a lot of love,” he said. “It meant a lot to me.”
Not as much as the win, which was a testament to the Flames’ desire to beat the Panthers in one of the most hyped games in recent memory.
It was worthy of overtime, and the drama of the shootout.
Tkachuk and Huberdeau were key contributors in the outcome, with Tkachuk scoring the equalizer in the dying minutes of regulation and Huberdeau scoring on his chance to extend the shootout.
“I’ve probably never shot in a shootout before. I kind of knew that Knighter (Spencer Knight) thought I was going to probably deke, so that’s why I took the shot,” said a relaxed Huberdeau. “Obviously surprised him.”
Huberdeau was relaxed but Weegar was buzzing over that goal.
“I was pumped; I was really happy to see him score.” Weegar said. “I think that one feels really good for him.”
One of the teams most excitable cheerleaders, Weegar was just as pumped to see Rasmus Andersson get tapped for the shootout — where he outwaited Knight and roofed the puck past the sprawling netminder.
“He scores in the shootout all practice. He’s a lock,” Weegar said. “I knew right away when he got picked — I had a good feeling about it.”
After gaining leads of 2-0, 3-2 and 4-3 throughout the late-afternoon contest, the Calgary Flames finally got one they couldn’t lose.
The in-game adversity included Markstrom mishandling the puck behind the net for the Panthers’ first goal, which gave the hosts a new energy.
Adam Ruzicka scored twice, Nikita Zadorov and Blake Coleman had the others for the Flames. Colin White was the beneficiary of Markstrom’s gaffe, with Sam Reinhart, Eetu Luostarinen and Tkachuk getting in on the back-and-forth action. Tkachuk’s goal (he also had an assist) was a deft tip of a Sam Bennett shot with a litte more than six minutes remaining in regulation.
Despite all the goals, there weren’t many of the highlight-reel variety.
“A lot of dirty goals. The teams play very similar kind of games. That’s the way you’ve got to play,” said Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter. “Boards, bluelines, corners, front of nets.
“It’s a good game. We fought back through a lot of adversity during the game.”