Flames Sweep Split-Squad Sunday Set Vs. Canucks
With their counterparts winning in Vancouver, the Calgary Flames squad that stayed home had the pressure on for the split-squad sweep.
If you believe that opener, you put way too much stock into the pre-season.
However, what happened on Sunday evening offered a lot of what Flames management wanted to see.
In Calgary, one of the new faces of the Calgary Flames franchise showed off his skills on a number of occasions. Jonathan Huberdeau flashed his creativity. He showed his willingness to battle on the backcheck. And Huberdeau also scored his first official goal in his first official NHL game with the Calgary Flames.
He also showed a little rust. There were more plays out there to be made.
“The altitude here is much harder. You can feel it,” Huberdeau said after the game. He said it didn’t take long to feel it, either.
“When you get your wind in the third shift of the game.”
But for the most part, it was a successful debut. The new-look top line (with Elias Lindholm and Tyler Toffoli) will get plenty of time to find their timing.
This time they came away with a 4-0 Calgary Flames victory, following up a 3-2 OT win in Vancouver that saw Michael Stone score the winner on a setup from Matthew Phillips and Jakob Pelletier.
Another potentially regular-season ready trio looked pretty good as well in Calgary. Mikael Backlund, Blake Coleman and Dillon Dube showed some nice chemistry.
That shouldn’t come as a surprise considering they found themselves on the ice together at times last season. Coleman and Backlund were two thirds of the team’s best line in the playoffs.
Andrew Mangiapane is the other member of that crew. He’s sitting out the early pre-season schedule with an injury, but he’ll get a bump up when he returns to action. Mangiapane’s expected debut spot is being kept warm by PTO player Cody Eakin. Nazem Kadri’s spot was filled by Connor Zary, and Sonny Milano — a fan favourite before he was even invited to camp — was on the left flank in the spot most contested as camp unfolds.
Eakin scored as part of a second-period outburst that sent the Calgary Flames into the third period with a three-goal lead.
Huberdeau started it at 3:11. Eakin padded it at 5:07 and Coleman ripped a powerplay slapper home at 11:57 to treat a reasonably sized pre-season crowd to some lamp lighting.
Thanks to backup goaltender Dan Vladar, who got the start in Calgary, there was none of that from the Canucks.
Vladar made 15 saves and spent nine of his 40 minutes in shorthanded situations. His best stop was a breakaway save on top prospect Arshdeep Bains late in the second period.
Oscar Dansk came in to play the third period to close out the shutout.
Brett Sutter scored a rebound goal in the dying seconds to close out the scoring in Calgary. Yes, that’s Darryl’s son.
It may be pre-season hockey, but it was a nice little Sunday dip of the skates back into the ice.
Photo: Steve Macfarlane, CHN