The warmup ended with a huge ovation for Calgary Flames players Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar as they left the ice.
But Florida Panthers fans went bonkers when Matthew Tkachuk tied things up late in the third period on Saturday.
They left a little disappointed when Flames defenceman Rasmus Andersson scored the winning goal in the fifth round of the shootout, but they got their money’s worth in a wild 5-4 contest.
The win moved the Flames to 8-7-2 on the season. The Panthers fell to 9-7-2.
It was a fast-paced game featuring plenty of offence, but it started out tentatively.
Like two heavyweights feeling each other out a bit.
There was plenty of pre-game hype with the centrepieces of one the biggest NHL trades in history facing each other for the first time. Tkachuk with his Panthers. Huberdeau and Weegar with the Flames.
Goaltenders Jacob Markstrom and Spencer Knight made some big saves early and then again in the shootout. But it got wild in between.
The Flames got a powerplay goal to open the scoring, with Adam Ruzicka confidently shooting after a couple of nifty passes from defencemen Nikita Zadorov and Noah Hanifin set him up with time.
Ruzicka helped the Flames grab a 2-0 lead in the second period, finding Zadorov trailing the play. The big blueliner snapped his shot past Tkachuk’s effort to block.
It looked like the Flames might dominate in the Huberdeau Homecoming.
But Markstrom got caught up with the puck behind the net and lost it to Colin White.
White won the race to the front of the net and cut the lead in half.
The Cats had the momentum and they cashed in to tie it later in the period on the powerplay.
Sam Reinhart was the beneficiary of a tic-tac-toe play, beating Markstrom from the slot to tie the game at two apiece.
Ruzicka — again — gave the Calgary Flames the lead again with a one-timer off a faceoff win by Elias Lindholm that caught Knight off guard.
Up by one in the third period on the road is a good place to be, but the Flames needed the extra time because the Panthers refused to lose in regulation.
They tied it up again early in the third on the rush. Eetu Luostarinen found a loose puck in the crease after Markstrom went down to stop a Sam Bennett shot that ended up more as a fortunate pass when the former Flames centre/winger misfired.
Blake Coleman put the Flames up one more time in regulation with a perfect five-hole shot to cap off a nice play that involved both his linemates — including Huberdeau.
Huberdeau made a nice check on his buddy Aaron Ekblad to separate him from the puck. Mikael Backlund scooped it up and got it over to Coleman.
Tkachuk made his biggest impact with about five minutes left, tipping Bennett’s shot past Markstrom to send the game to overtime.
Nothing was solved there and it was off to the showdown, where Markstrom totally redeemed himself for his earlier gaffe.
Anton Lundell scored on the Panthers’ first attempt but that was all they’d get. Huberdeau scored for the Flames, then Rasmus Andersson outwaited Knight in the fifth round.
The game was too good to end in 60 minutes and these teams will meet again in 10 days.