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Cats Fall to Flames in Preseason Opener

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers

Captain Olli Jokinen Scores Lone Panther Goal

CALGARY, Alb. – The Florida Panthers did everything right in their preseason opener, except score more goals than the Calgary Flames in a hard luck 3-1 loss. The Cats outshot (37-25), outchanced and virtually outplayed the Flames from beginning to end.

Captain Olli Jokinen scored the Cats only goal on the power play at 11:24 of the first period. Jokinen continues to build on the momentum of a breakout 05-06 season in which he scored a career high 38 goals and 89 points.

Jokinen, playing the half board on the power play, took a feed from Jozef Stumpel and whipped a top-shelf slapshot past Flames starter Brent Krahn (36 saves). Jokinen, who played the point on the power play for most of last season, moved to a more favorable position on the half board with Ric Jackman (one assist) and Ari Vallin running the point.

Chuck Kobasew, Dustin Boyd and Carsen Germyn scored for Calgary, who went 2-7 with the man-advantage.

Jokinen centered a line with Stumpel and rookie Kenndal McArdle. Cats wing Nathan Horton, who scored 28 goals in 05-06, finished with two shots, as did veteran Center Joe Nieuwendyk and wing Martin Gelinas.

Former Flame Steve Montador played well against his former team with two hits and an even rating in over 19 minutes of ice time.

Future Hall of Fame goalie Ed Belfour made his Panthers debut, making 11 saves in just over 30 minutes of action. Rookie Jean-Marc Pelletier played the remainder of the game, shutting out Calgary with 11 saves.

Also making their Panthers debuts were defensemen Bryan Allen, Ruslan Salei and Ari Vallin. Allen chipped in with four hits on the night.

Notable scratches for the Cats included forward Todd Bertuzzi, defenseman Mike Van Ryn, goalie Alex Auld, center Stephen Weiss, defenseman Jay Bouwmeester and center Chris Gratton. All six are

expected to play against Edmonton on Monday night.

There were two fights in the game involving two of the Panthers rising stars. After exchanging hits on both ends of the ice Cats forward Anthony Stewart dropped the gloves with Calgary center Brandon Prust midway through the second period. Then with three minutes left in the third period Horton disassembled Calgary defenseman Brad Ference with a series of blows to the head.

The Cats open the regular season on Oct. 6 against the Boston Bruins at the BankAtlantic Center. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m.

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