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Florida Panthers Finally Breakthrough in Shootout, Drop Calgary Flames 3-2 ... Kulikov, Weiss Score in Shootout as Flames Rookie Pitches a Gem in NHL Debut

KoolaidKevin Dineen spoke before Friday's game that his Panthers needed to get back to the business of winning games and quit talking about long road trips and “worrying about other uncontrollables.''

Late in the third period, it appears Florida finally listened.

Sean Bergenheim scored his second goal of the night with under five minutes remaining in regulation and Stephen Weiss scored on Florida's fourth round of the shootout to lift the Panthers to a 3-2 win at BankAtlantic Center.

Florida's shootout win was apparently so rare that some fans tossed rubber rats onto the ice following Weiss' goal – before Calgary got its fourth shot of the night. Once the rats were scooped up, Jose Theodore stopped Lee Stempniak allowing even more rodents to fall from the sky.

The Panthers are just 2-4 in shootouts this season with all coming at home. In its history, Florida is 26-48 in shootouts (most losses in the league) and just 9-32 at home. Friday's win snapped a three-game losing streak (0-1-2) as the Panthers extended their lead in the division to seven points over Washington.

“It's nice to get the monkey off our back with the shootout,'' Weiss said. “There's always confidence. If you lose that, your lost. We know we were going to turn the page on that. It was just a matter of time. Theodore keeps us in every one.''

It looked as if Calgary was going to pull out a win as it lead 2-1 in the third after Rene Bourque scored on a power play off an assist from former Florida captain Olli Jokinen. But the Panthers had new life late as Bergenheim knocked in a loose puck in front of the net. Goalie Leland Irving made his NHL debut against the Panthers and pitched a gem, stopping 39 of 41 shots.

Irving all but made sure the Panthers would play in their 11th straight home game decided by a goal.

“I remember my first game and it's always exciting to see someone play in their first game,'' said Theodore, the Panthers goalie who played in No. 603 on Friday. “He was really solid. I think it's great to see someone play like that in their first game.''

Added Bergenheim: “Every time you are down and get a big goal, it's a great feeling. The whole team was excited. We tried to win it in regular time. [Irving] made some great saves and really came through for them. He was tough, but we got the goals we needed.''

Calgary, which lost in overtime at Tampa Bay on Tuesday, trailed 1-0 in the first after Bergenheim's first goal. Jokinen tied it three minutes later. The score stayed that way despite both teams having extended power plays later in the game. Florida failed to convert on five power plays, including a short stint with 5-on-3 play. The Flames were a touch better. Even though Florida killed off a long 5-on-3, Calgary got in with Bourque's goal 3:55 into the third.

AROUND THE ICE

General manager Dale Tallon said the Panthers aren't in the market for any other players at this time, denying rumors that Florida was in the running for disgruntled Phoenix center Kyle Turris.

“I'm done,'' Tallon said. “Our roster is set for Christmas.'' The NHL's Christmas roster freeze is Monday and Florida already made one move Thursday by sending center Mark Cullen back to AHL San Antonio.

Florida is carrying seven defensemen (Erik Gudbranson was scratched for a second straight game), 12 forwards and two goalies.

Jack Skille left Friday's game after being hit along the boards late. The Panthers would have to make a roster move if Skille is hurt.

() Aside from Jokinen and Jay Bouwmeester, former Panthers video coach Jamie Pringle and goalie coach Clint Malarchuk were back in Sunrise as members of the Flames staff. Calgary assistant coach Dave Lowry was an original member of the Panthers, playing for Florida from 1993-97.

() Bouwmeester played in his 538th consecutive game Friday, the longest active streak in the league. The run started when the Panthers lost to Tampa Bay 5-3 on March 6, 2004. Bouwmeester passed former Panther Karlis Skrastins (who died in the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash this summer) for most consecutive games played by a defenseman last March. 

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