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Monahan, Flames beat Panthers in shootout

by Aaron Vickers

CALGARY -- Sean Monahan may be a rookie, but he’s handling the shootout like a seasoned pro.

Reto Berra stopped Jimmy Hayes after Monahan scored the shootout winner for the second time this week to lift the Calgary Flames to a 4-3 win against the Florida Panthers at Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday.

In the sixth round, Monahan went in and blasted a wrist shot by Florida goalie Tim Thomas' blocker. Berra then closed the door on Hayes' deke to snap Calgary's six-game losing streak on home ice and give the Flames five of a possible six points over their past three games -- each of which went to extra time.

“I think my first couple years in junior I was pretty successful in it,” Monahan said. “Last year, I wasn’t too hot. It feels good to put them in again. … It feels good. We want wins. I guess putting those in helped the team get some wins.”

Monahan also had the shootout winner in Calgary’s 5-4 win against the Winnipeg Jets on Monday.

“He’s coming down (in shootout order),” coach Bob Hartley said. “In Winnipeg, he went eighth. Today, he went sixth, so he will keep going down. He is a goal scorer and he has a great vision and great poise, and you can’t teach poise.”

Joe Colborne, Sven Baertschi and Blair Jones, in his first game of the season after being recalled Thursday from the Abbotsford Heat of the American Hockey League, scored for Calgary. Hayes, Tom Gilbert and Marcel Goc answered for the Panthers, who return to Florida after going 2-2-1 on a five-game, 6,448-mile road trip through the Western Conference.

“You’re on the road this long, you’re not getting enough time to practice things, and that’s my biggest gripe if I have one,” Panthers coach Peter Horachek said. “We need more time to be able to work on certain things, not just talk about them on the board.

“I’ve got to be real proud of the way the guys reacted. They responded. They seem to respond every time. They came back out -- we wanted to come back out in the third and do what we have to do -- and they scored, and [we] didn’t drop their heads. They came right back out. Good road trip. From that standpoint, going .500 and all tough games, I think that’s really positive.”

The Flames needed the shootout to secure two points after blowing a 3-1 lead in the third.

Jones gave the Flames a two-goal cushion with his goal at 5:40 of the third period, but Berra gave the Panthers life.

Leaving his crease to try to clear a puck before Shawn Matthias could get in alone, Berra rifled it onto Hayes' stick. The Florida right wing put his first of the season into the empty net to bring Florida back to within one at 7:02.

Goc tied the game 3-3 off another Flames turnover. After Mike Cammalleri failed to clear the puck out of Calgary's zone, Sean Bergenheim dished to Scott Gomez, who fed Goc for his sixth of the season and first in seven games at 14:01 to set up overtime and the eventual shootout.

The Panthers opened the scoring, capitalizing on the Flames’ continued slow-start struggles, which include just one goal on 31 shots in their past five first periods.

On a faceoff to the left of Calgary's net, Nick Bjugstad drew the puck back to Gilbert, who one-timed the win between Berra's legs to stake the Panthers to a 1-0 lead with 4:46 remaining in the period. The goal came on their fourth of six shots in the period.

The Flames picked it up in the second.

On a failed clearing attempt off Mike Mottau’s stick, David Jones wrestled the puck over to Colborne, who wristed a shot over Thomas' glove nine minutes into the period to tie the game 1-1.

"I’m just on the receiving end of some real smart plays from [Jones],” Colborne said. “He made a great play giving me the space in the slot. It was more of a reaction. When you get a puck in that area, you don’t have much time, and I just got it on my stick and tried to get it in the top corner."

With Matthias in the penalty box for hooking, Baertschi put the Flames ahead at 12:04 of the second.

After working the puck back to TJ Brodie at the point, Baertschi collected the rebound off Thomas' pad and buried it behind the Panthers goaltender with just six seconds remaining in the man-advantage. The goal was Baertschi's first in 15 games.

Thomas denied Baertschi's attempt for a second power-play later in the second, flashing the glove to keep Florida within one.

But Blair Jones managed to extend the Flames' lead to two in the third period, taking a pass in the slot from Lance Bouma behind the net and burying it into a gaping net to put Calgary up 3-1 at 5:40 before Florida’s comeback.

“I was thinking, ‘If I miss this, I should probably skate right to the dressing room,’” he said. “It was good. It felt good to see it go in. It’s a weight off my shoulders.”

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