Panthers 4, Flames 3
MIAMI (AP) _ Scott Mellanby scored two goals as the Florida Panthers uncharacteristically capitalized on the power play in beating Calgary 4-3 Sunday night to give new coach Doug MacLean his first NHL victory.
Stu Barnes also had two assists and scored the winning goal for the Panthers _ their first win in a home opener for the third-year franchise.
Calgary’s Theoren Fleury had a goal and two assists for the Flames, who made a run at the Panthers in the final minutes.
Florida, 24th in power-play percentage (13.1) in the NHL last season, scored two goals _ both by Mellanby _ with the advantage against the Flames in the first period.
With Florida trailing 1-0 on a goal by Calgary’s Michael Nylander, Mellanby was fed the puck by Barnes and slapped it by Flames goaltender Rick Tabaracci just short of the point at 5:54 of the first.
Calgary then scored 15 seconds later on the break when Fleury beat Florida defenders to get one-on-one with Panthers goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck. Fleury, who had an earlier assist, put the puck between the All-Star’s legs to give Calgary 2-1 lead.
Mellanby tied it 2-2 on the Panthers’ second power-play goal of the period when he redirected a shot by Jason Wooley past Tabaracci at 16:38.
Belanger then put Florida on top when he put in a wraparound goal at 17:00 of the first.
Things got worse for Calgary in the third period when the Flames’ Paul Housley accidentally put the puck on the stick of the Panthers’ Jody Hall in front of the net. Hall used Housley as a screen to drill the puck by Tabaracci 30 seconds into the final period.
Calgary made it close when Fleury notched his third point of the night. Fleury passed to Zarley Zalapski, who shot it through traffic into the upper half of the net from about 20 feet.
Fleury made a final attempt to tie the game with shot with about 20 seconds left, but Vanbiesbrouck smothered the puck for the final margin.
Florida did lose defenseman Magnus Svensson in the first period when he was tripped up by Calgary’s Ron Stern. He will be out three to six weeks with a strained left knee.
MacLean has promised the Panthers to be more aggressive offensively and it showed Sunday as Florida outshot last year’s Pacific Division champions 25-22.
The victory was bittersweet for fans, though, as Florida’s owner Wayne Huizenga has said he may move the team out of state next season if the Panthers can’t get a new lease at the Miami Arena.
``I wish we never had a team if they were going to take it away,″ said season ticket holder Cliff Peeke of nearby Deerfield Beach. ``It’s unfortunate that other markets in the country will mistakenly think this is because of lack of fan support when there are so many die-hard hockey fans down here.″