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Fleury scores shootout winner in return to NHL

Posted by on Sep 18th, 2009 and filed under Ice Hockey, Latest News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Theo Fleury, returning to hockey after being away for 6 years, scored the only goal of the shootout to lead the Calgary Flames to a 5-4 preseason victory over the New York Islanders on Thursday night.

Olli Jokinen had two goals and an assist for the Flames, but it the 41-year-old Fleury who had the crowd chanting his name. He was first off the bench to hug goaltender David Shantz after he turned aside Greg Moore’s final attempt to clinch the victory.

”I don’t miss those chances ever,” the 5-foot-6 Fleury declared. ”Not in the big moments. Never have, never will.”

Islanders forward Kyle Okposo was removed from the ice immobilized on a stretcher after a hit from Flames defenseman Dion Phaneuf early in the second period.

Okposo, the seventh pick in the 2006 draft, remained motionless on the ice for more than 6 minutes as he was attended to by trainers from both teams and other medical personnel.

A CT scan showed Okposo had a mild concussion, Islanders spokesman Seth Sylvan said in a text message to The Associated Press. Sylvan said Okposo accompanied the team on the flight to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where the Islanders are conducting training camp and where these teams play again Saturday night.

”I thought it was a clean hit,” Phaneuf said. ”I stepped up and used my shoulder. You don’t like to see guys get hurt, but that’s part of my job when the hits are there, to take them.”

The Flames offered Fleury a tryout less than 48 hours after the NHL and Players’ Association agreed to reinstate the suspended forward last week.

He has battled alcoholism during his career and had been under indefinite suspension for violating the NHL’s substance abuse policy.

His totals of 364 goals and 830 points were the franchise record until being surpassed last season by Jarome Iginla.

After the hit on Okposo, New York forward Pascal Morency jumped off the bench and charged Phaneuf but was intercepted by Calgary’s Mark Giordano. A small melee ensued, that included Islanders goalie Martin Biron. Morency was given a game misconduct.

Phaneuf remained the target of the Islanders the rest of the period and there were two more fights.

”From what I saw – and it happened really fast – but I saw Phaneuf kind of go up in the air,” Biron said. ”I’d like to see the replay on that but it definitely looked like feet went up and he came across head hunting and those kinds of hits are what the league is trying to take away from the game.”

Flames coach Brent Sutter, who coached Phaneuf in the Western Hockey League, had no problem with the hit.

”That’s part of Dion’s game. When he sees that open ice, Dion has to use it. It’s one part of his game that makes him a unique player,” Sutter said. ”You never like to see anybody get hurt obviously, and it’s too bad that happened, and hopefully we’ve been told, he’s going to be OK. But Dion still can’t pass up that hit.”

With Calgary trailing 4-3, Jokinen picked up his third point of the night at 7:49 after his shot was tipped in by Moss.

Matt Moulson had two goals to lead New York (0-2-1), while Blake Comeau and Trevor Smith also scored.

Nigel Dawes added a goal and two assists for Calgary (1-1-0).

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