CALGARY - Considering there hasn’t been much time to really work on special teams, the Flames looked pretty good Thursday night in their final exhibition outing.
Not only did they kill off a five-on-three Coyotes advantage in the second period of a 4-2 victory at the Saddledome, they connected twice on the powerplay in the middle frame to open the scoring.
And they were both pretty plays.
David Moss was the beneficiary of some spectacular passing, with Niklas Hagman patiently waiting for things to open up before dishing through traffic to Olli Jokinen, who one-touched it over to a wide-open Moss at the top of the crease.
Later, defenceman Anton Babchuk finally unleashed one of his heavy one-timer slapshots from the point on a pass from Mark Giordano to make it 2-0 for the hosts — who provided some excitement for the fans who ponied up big bucks to take in the pre-season contest.
The score could have been much more lopsided.
Moss, Jokinen and Curtis Glencross nearly teamed up for the game’s first goal on a great give-and-go between Moss and Glencross. Moss fed Jokinen at the top of the crease, but the big Finn couldn’t get his stick on it.
With nine days before their season-opener, they’ll get plenty of practise over the next while. But what’s likely to be their second group of forwards already looks in mid-season form on the man-advantage.
Then again, it is just the pre-season, as we’ve been scolded.
Glencross scored what turned out to be the winner before the Coyotes made it close with goals from Boyd Gordon and Ray Whitney in the dying minutes.
Moss added his second into an empty net.
AROUND THE BOARDS
Goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff wasn’t all that busy, but he looked pretty good in his first full game of the pre-season, especially as he flashed the leather on former teammate Adrian Aucoin’s slapper through traffic ... Hagman is still showing jump for the Flames. He orchestrated a nice shift with linemates Mikael Backlund and Lance Bouma in the late seconds of the first frame. Bouma fanned with an open net in front of him ... Flames defenceman Cory Sarich made a shrewd positional block in the first period after the Coyotes showed off some fancy passing. He’s a guy who never gets enough credit for what he does right ... At the other end of the ice, Giordano showed off his smarts when a Coyotes defender dropped to block his point shot. He just delayed his wind-up and then let it rip when the coast was clear ... Sarich made a slightly awkward-looking but effective open-ice hit on Patrick O’Sullivan late in the first period. Good way to test out that pelvic problem ... Another tough break for Matt Stajan. The Flames centre finally put the puck in the net, showing off some great hand-eye coordination, but had to use a high stick to get it in.
Former Flames backup goalie Curtis McElhinney didn’t see the ice as Jason LaBarbera played the entire game for the Coyotes. Just like old times for McElhinney ... The Flames are still toying with the idea of playing three defencemen on the powerplay, with Jay Bouwmeester up front. And you wonder why they can’t seem to hold the offensive zone ... Guillaume Desbiens got so excited about scrapping with Paul Bissonnette, he lost his balance and fell quickly.
But he bounced back up and they were at it again. After a few sweater jabs and a right hook from Bissonette, the Flames hopeful lost his feet again.