SASKATOON (CP) - It was almost like a home game for the Calgary Flames, though the partisan crowd in Saskatoon was unable to boost them to victory.
Jozef Stumpel score the only goal in a shootout to give the Florida Panthers a 3-2 exhibition win over Calgary Credit Union Centre Tuesday night. "Obviously, everybody was cheering for the Flames," said Stumpel. "But (the win) was good for us. We want to have a good pre-season and have a good start to the season." The NHL game was the first played in Saskatoon in thirteen years.
"It was a good crowd out there," said Flames captain Jarome Iginla. "They were into the game."
Daymond Langkow opened the scoring on the power play midway through the first frame. After receiving a pass from Marcus Nilson, he knuckled a shot from the face-off circle that snuck past Florida goaltender Tomas Vokoun off the post.
The Flames looked to be in control at the beginning of the second period until Rostislav Olesz picked up a sloppy turnover by Flames defender Anders Eriksson in Calgary's end and beat goaltender Curtis McElhinney to tie the game and rob Calgary of some momentum.
A fight between Florida's Tanner Glass and Calgary's Carsen Germyn then seemed to give the teams a spark as they proceeded to quickly trade goals.
Grant Stevenson put the Flames up 2-1 on a Jarome Iginla feed before Florida's Martin Tuma hammered a shot home from the blue-line to tie it at 2-2 with eight minutes left in the second frame.
During a four-on-four midway through the third, Iginla broke in alone on Panthers backup Tyler Plante. Iginla, known for his sniping capabilities, took a tumble after a Plante pokecheck.
"I just changed my mind at the last second," said Iginla. "I'd love to have that back. Obviously some rust was showing, falling down on a break away. That's not what you want to do."
On the follow up, Langkow rung one off the cross-bar.
In the shootout, all three Flames shooters, Iginla, Langkow, and Kristian Huselius, were unable to beat Plante. Olesz, and Nathan Horton had missed before Stumpel's heroics.
Vokoun, acquired in the off-season, stopped 17 shots before being replaced by Plante at 10:40 of the second period. Plante then made 13 saves in relief, while McElhinney stopped 26 shots at the other end.
The attendance is believed to be the highest recorded hockey crowd for the building. The previous high came on January 4, 1991 at the gold-medal game of the World Junior Hockey Championship.
Flames coach Mike Keenan expects to make some changes before the Flames' next exhibition match.
"We're experimenting with just about every aspect of our team," said Keenan.
Florida play next in Chicago against the Blackhawks on Thursday, while Calgary visit the Vancouver Canucks Wednesday.
"No matter what you do in the summer, it's always different in a (pre-season) game," said Iginla. "You just keep trying to get better, and feel more comfortable every day."