EDMONTON, Alb. – It didn't take long for new Florida Panthers goalie Alex Auld to prove he's capable of being the Panthers go-to-guy. In 30 minutes of work Auld made 18 saves and allowed only one goal in a 2-1 Panthers loss.
Oilers Captain Ryan Smyth scored the game winner early in the third period on a 5-on-3 power play. Smyth snuck in the back door and one timed a pass by goalie Craig Anderson for a 2-1 lead.
Despite the loss, Auld was the story, as he made a series of memorable saves including a doorstep robbery of Fredrik Petterson on a first period power play and a two-on-one stonewalling of Smyth and Shawn Horcoff.
Edmonton opened the scoring on a first period power play when defenseman Tom Gilbert one-timed a pass from Robbie Schremp past Auld to make it 1-0. Just seconds earlier Auld robbed Gilbert on a similar play, but the new Cats goalie was unable to turn the same trick twice.
Just over 11 minutes later Florida answered back fromn an unlikely source on their own power play. Rookie defenseman Martin Lojek took the rebound off his own shot and buried a slapshot past Dwayne Roloson to tie the score.
Auld went save for save with playoff hero Roloson (17 saves) before both gave way to their backups. For the Oilers, Stanley Cup Finals goalie Jussi Markannen came in and while another new Panther, Craig Anderson, came in and allowed just the Smyth power play goal for the Cats.
Both teams failed to score in the second period, but there was no shortage of chances, especially on the Cats power play where Todd Bertuzzi and Stephen Weiss caused havoc for the Edmonton penalty kill.
Forward Todd Bertuzzi, also in his Panther debut, played on a line with Weiss and winger Gregory Campbell. Veteran Chris Gratton saw his first action of the preseason, centering a line with wingers Juraj Kolnik and Denis Shvidki. Gratton was also involved in the only fight of the evening, beating the tar out of Edmonton forward Brad Winchester in the third period.
Also making his first appearance in a Panthers uniform was Finnish Olympic Silver Medal winning forward Ville Peltonen.
The only Florida player to play in last night's game against Calgary and tonight against Edmonton was defenseman Ric Jackman.