CALGARY - The regular season opener is still 13 days away but if Friday night was a sneak preview, the Calgary Flames new-look offence will be a formidable one with the summer acquisitions of Todd Bertuzzi and Mike Cammalleri.
With Jarome Iginla getting the night off, the focus turned to the Flames newcomers who each scored a goal and looked impressive in Calgary's 8-2 rout of the Florida Panthers.
The two nicest goals of the evening both involved the rugged, well-travelled Bertuzzi. On Cammalleri's goal at 4:58 of the second that broke a 2-2 tie, Bertuzzi spun in the corner and whipped a backhand pass to the front of the net that Cammalleri neatly steered past goaltender Tomas Vokoun.
Bertuzzi, 32, who as a Vancouver Canuck once scored 46 goals in a season (2002-03), then showed he still has some soft hands making a nifty deke to beat Vokoun on a third period breakaway.
"Every game I've been playing, I've been feeling a little bit more comfortable," Bertuzzi said.
A controversial free agent signing back in July when he inked a one-year deal with the Flames, proof of how well Bertuzzi has been accepted already was evident in the loud ovation he received from the sell-out crowd of 19,289 when the goal was announced.
"It's awesome, a little bit different than what I envisioned it was going to be like," Bertuzzi said about the warm reception.
"You just have to go out and play hard, that's all these fans want. They want you to go out and play hard, compete hard, and if you do, I'm pretty sure even someone like myself can win someone over."
Florida centre Nathan Horton was not surprised by anything he saw from his former teammate.
"We had Bertuzzi here and he's a pretty amazing player," Horton said. "He's one of those special players that you always have to watch where he is because he's so big and strong plus he can score and pass."
Also contributing a giant night offensively for the Flames was David Moss, who had two goals and two assists. Moss, who only notched four goals last season after scoring 10 times in his rookie season, scored both his goals in the third period as the Flames struck for five unanswered goals.
Calgary (3-1-0) also got goals from Rene Bourque, Curtis Glencross, Keith Primeau and Cory Sarich. Second-year winger Dustin Boyd added two assists to run his pre-season point total to six points (one goal, 5 assists) through three games.
Velle Peltonen and Mike Duco replied for Florida (2-1-1).
Miikka Kiprusoff played the first half of the game and got the victory stopping 11 of 13 shots before giving way to Curtis McElhinney, who was perfect on the 14 shots he faced. Vokoun was peppered with 43 shots in playing the full 60 minutes for Florida.
Among the other Flames that stood out on the evening was Matthew Lombardi. The Flames speedy centre spent much of the night in-between Bertuzzi and Cammalleri and chalked up three assists along the way.
"Those guys showed their creativity in the way they can play so it was definitely enjoyable getting to play with them," Lombardi said. "Todd's skating unbelievable right now and Cammy is always finding holes so it's easy to find those guys. The holes were there, I was just giving them the puck, it wasn't that complicated for me."
Also standing out for Calgary was veteran defenceman Rhett Warrener, who had been placed on waivers during the summer but went unclaimed. Warrener, 32, is fighting for a job on the Flames blue-line and several times jumped into skirmishes to the aid of teammates.
In the third period, he then got in a lively scrap with Florida defenceman Jordan Henry, who earlier in the game had stuck out a knee on Cammalleri and earlier in the shift checked Boyd head first into the boards from behind.
Notes: Bourque left the game in the second period with an undisclosed injury. ... Prior to the game, Calgary assigned 17 players to Quad City (AHL) leaving the 33 players in camp - 19 forwards, 11 defencemen, and three goalies. ... Florida will play for the fifth straight night on Saturday night in Summerside, Prince Edward Island. However, none of the players in action Friday will be in uniform for that game with only the Panthers coaching staff making the cross-country trip.