Jake Virtanen, Anders Nilsson lead Canucks past Flames 3-1 in pre-season action | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Jake Virtanen, Anders Nilsson lead Canucks past Flames 3-1 in pre-season action

Vancouver Canucks' goalie Anders Nilsson, right, of Sweden, stops Calgary Flames' Sam Bennett (93) as Vancouver's Andrey Pedan, of Lithuania, defends during the first period of a preseason NHL hockey game in Vancouver, B.C., on Thursday September 28, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
September 28, 2017 - 10:14 PM

VANCOUVER - Jake Virtanen scored his third goal of the pre-season and Anders Nilsson made 30 saves as the Vancouver Canucks blanked the Calgary Flames 3-1 on Thursday night.

Michael Del Zotto and Darren Archibald had the other goal for Vancouver.

Sean Monahan replied for Calgary, which got 27 saves from Mike Smith.

Looking to resurrect his career after getting banished to the American Hockey League last season, a leaner Virtanen has impressed since the first day of training camp, looking quicker while also using his six-foot-one, 215-pound frame at both ends of the ice.

The 21-year-old opened the scoring 4:52 of the first period Thursday, his fifth point of the exhibition schedule, after taking a nice drop pass from Sam Gagner and snapping a shot five-hole on Smith.

Nilsson, who was signed from the Buffalo Sabres over the summer to back up Jacob Markstrom, made a nice stop on a Kris Versteeg tip with six minutes left in the period before Virtanen rang a shot off the post on a 2-on-1 rush moments later.

The sixth overall pick at the 2014 draft, Virtanen's days were jammed packed in the AHL after registering just one assist in 10 games with the Canucks to start the forgettable 2016-17 campaign.

He would work out in the morning with his teammates on the Utica Comets, hit the ice for practice, and then ride a stationary bike.

After a few hours of sleep at home in the afternoon, Virtanen would be back at the arena for another evening gym session or a meeting, or both, with head coach Travis Green — who now has the same job with the Canucks — as the player and organization looked to improve his fitness and help him rediscover his game.

Vancouver, which played two games in China last week against the Los Angeles Kings, was without Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Thomas Vanek, Bo Horvat, Alexander Edler and Markstrom, among others, against the Flames on Thursday.

Calgary, meanwhile, brought most of the club's NHL regulars, including Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, Sam Bennett, Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie.

Brock Boeser, the Canucks' other youngster looking like a good bet to make the roster for opening night, almost scored his fifth goal of the pre-season four minutes into the second after stripping Flames defenceman Dougie Hamilton, but Smith was there to make the save on the 23rd overall selection from 2015.

Vancouver eventually made it 2-0 at 7:25 on the power play when Del Zotto's shot from the point deflected off the stick of Flames forward Michael Frolik in the high slot and fluttered into the net past a helpless Smith.

The Canucks looked to have made 3-0 with eight minutes left in the period, but Brandon Sutter's deflection on another man advantage was waved off even though replays appeared to show his stick was below the crossbar.

The Flames' best chance of the second came on a power play of their own with 2:50 left, but the hulking six-foot-six Nilsson got across to make the save.

Archibald put the game to bed at 8:45 of the third when he came out of the penalty box and slipped a shot between Smith's legs on a breakaway before Monahan broke Nilsson's bid for the shutout with 6:03 left in regulation with a power-play goal.

Notes: The Canucks wrap up their exhibition schedule at home against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday, while the Flames visit the Winnipeg Jets. ... Calgary opens the regular season at Edmonton next Wednesday. Vancouver hosts the Oilers on Oct. 7.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

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