Heading into Wednesday night’s game at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, the Calgary Flames had yet to win a preseason game this year. That’s hardly something worth panicking about, but there were enough little things going wrong – both in Canada and China – to cause a bit of nervousness.
The Flames likely calmed a few people down during a pretty solid effort against the Vancouver Canucks. They were quite good in a 4-1 preseason victory.
The Flames started the game with a lot of energy and were rewarded early on. Juuso Valimaki sprung Matthew Phillips on a breakaway and the smallest Flames prospect beat Thatcher Demko stick-side to make it 1-0 Calgary – a lead the visitors never relinquished. After a forecheck created a Canucks turnover, Dmitry Zavgorodniy’s initial shot was stopped but Glenn Gawdin put the rebound into the slot where Spencer Foo waited out Demko and slide the puck between his pad and the inside post to make it 2-0. Shots were 16-11 Canucks and the home side led in chances 7-5.
The Flames got into a bit of penalty trouble in the second, giving Vancouver two power plays – and a penalty shot on Calgary’s power play. But the visitors managed to cash in due to a bit of casual defensive attitudes by Vancouver on their power play. After a turnover Dillon Dube went for a skate with the puck, turning it into a two-on-one rush with Andrew Mangiapane; Dube fed Mangiapane for a one-timer and that short-handed goal made it 3-0 Flames. Shots were 10-10 in the second and scoring chances were 5-3 Flames.
Tyler Parsons relieved David Rittich to start the third and he was tested quite a bit in the period as the Flames’ defenders seemed to relax a bit too much with a three-goal lead. Brendan Leipsic finally broke the combined shutout on a four-on-four as the Flames had issues clearing their zone after a couple nice initial Parsons stops. But 3-1 was as close as Vancouver would get and Valimaki added an empty net buzzer-beater to make it a 4-1 final. Shots were 13-11 Canucks but chances were 6-5 Flames.
Why the Flames Won
The Flames just had an overall rock-solid game. They got strong goaltending from Rittich and Parsons. They got timely goals from Phillips, Foo, Mangiapane and Valimaki. Their young blueliners were pretty good after an iffy outing against Edmonton.
Honestly, the only thing that wasn’t firing on all cylinders was the power play.
We’ve gotta go with Dube again, as he was superb. But the gap between him and the rest of the team’s good players wasn’t massive; Mangiapane, Valimaki, Foo and the goalies were also quite good.
The Turning Point
The Mangiapane short-handed goal made it 3-0 and basically sapped any momentum Vancouver had hoped to generate with their special teams work.
(Percentage stats are 5-on-5, data via Natural Stat Trick)
(Natural Stat Trick didn’t have any stats for Adam Ollas-Mattsson.)
This and That
The Flames were 0-for-2 on the power play and generated just a single shot. The Canucks were 0-for-5 on the power play and generated 8 shots.
The Flames are expected to make cuts tomorrow on a rare complete off day for the squad – domestic players and the China group all get a day of rest. The Flames are back in game action on Friday night when they head to Winnipeg to visit the Jets.