BY GEORGE RICHARDS grichards@MiamiHerald.com
EDMONTON, Alberta – The Florida Panthers and Edmonton Oilers played late into the night Wednesday, their preseason battle exceeding 65 minutes of game time and going into a shootout.
And even three shootout shots wasn't enough to decide this fight-marred marathon.
Florida's Bryan McCabe beat Edmonton goalie Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers on the Panthers' fifth shot to earn the Panthers a hard-fought 3-2 win over the Oilers at Rexall Place.
The Panthers kept their two regular keepers on the shelf and gave one of their minor league backstops a chance to play. Chris Beckford-Tseu started in net for the Panthers in their preseason game at Edmonton, surrendering two goals in regulation but saving his best in the end. Beckford-Tseu gave up two goals in the shootout, but stopped Edmonton on its final three shots for the winner.
Beckford-Tseu, 24, was signed as a free agent this summer and is pegged to start the season in Rochester, N.Y.
The way he played Wednesday, however, showed he would be ready to play in case something happened to Tomas Vokoun or Craig Anderson as he made key stops throughout the second and third periods. Beckford-Tseu, who played in one game with St. Louis last season, played in all three North American professional leagues last year. Not only did he get his sip of coffee in the NHL, but he split time with Alaska of the ECHL and Peoria of the AHL.
One night after watching from the bench, Beckford-Tseu didn't get much work early on, the host Oilers not getting their first shot on goal until midway through the first period. Edmonton only took four shots in the opening period, although one was strong, Shawn Horcoff scoring on a power play with 40.3 seconds left. That tied the score, Florida opening the scoring with a Janis Sprukts goal from the left circle 1:49 into the game.
Florida had a 2-1 lead thanks to a Shawn Matthias goal in the second, although Shawn Horcoff tied it again on another power play goal. Florida's Richard Zednik was called for hooking early in the overtime, but the Oilers' advantage was wiped out when Edmonton's Sheldon Souray was ejected for instigating another brawl.
Anderson, Florida's regular backup, played all 60 minutes of Tuesday's 3-2 win at Calgary as Beckford-Tseu watched from the bench. Coach Peter DeBoer planned on putting Beckford-Tseu in at one point, but said he and goalie coach Pierre Groulx “just let him roll. I thought he was playing well and we had a chance to win the game. We made a decision on the fly to let him finish and I thought he did a great job. ''
Anderson's chin was sore after Tuesday's game after a hard slap shot from Calgary's Jamie Lundmark struck Anderson in the mask. Anderson initially fell to the ice, but was quick to get back up and resume play.
“I was a little shaken up, but that gets you in the game even more,'' Anderson said. “I just wanted to make sure the mask wasn't broken. It was nice to get the whistle and get some time to recover.''
The Panthers are now 0-for-14 on power play chances this preseason, something DeBoer says isn't a concern. Yet. With his 50-man roster split into two teams, DeBoer says it's hard to get a true read on his power play units. The ugliest moment came when the Panthers managed just one shot during a four-minute advantage in the second period.
“We're going to keep working at it,'' DeBoer said. “It's no secret to generate goals this year, we're going to need a good power play.''
-- Florida's assistant captains on Wednesday: Nathan Horton, Cory Stillman and Bryan McCabe. DeBoer has yet to decide on who Florida will have as a captain this season. Horton was also used as a penalty killer on Wednesday, one example of DeBoer redefining roles of various players this preseason. Horton, predominately used as a right wing during his Florida career and very rarely as a penalty killer, centered the top line Wednesday with Stillman and Richard Zednik on the wings.
-- Zednik participated in his first game action since having his carotid artery accidentally severed by the skate of teammate Olli Jokinen on Feb. 10 in Buffalo.
-- The Oilers held a moment of silence for former goalie Jussi Markkanen, whose 3-year-old son died in Russia on Monday. The Oilers also wore decals on their helmets to honor Olie-Matias Markkanen, who fell four stories to his death after playing on a window ledge in Moscow.