VANCOUVER, BC -- The Calgary Flames found their offence from an unlikely source Saturday.
Brandon Bollig had the first two-goal game of his pro career and Josh Jooris scored the game-winner with 3:23 remaining in 3-on-3 overtime, taking a pass from Matt Stajan and beating Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller along the ice to end the game and give the Flames a 4-3 victory, their second win over Vancouver in as many nights.
A spectator as Sam Bennett, Micheal Ferland and Sean Monahan each netted their first of the pre-season in a 4-1 win 24-hours earlier, Brandon Bollig one-upped the youthful core of the Calgary Flames -- and those kids vying for attention in the back half of a home-and-home against the Vancouver Canucks with the first two goal performance of his NHL career.
It's only pre-season but he'll take it.
"I don’t want them to get too far ahead of me," said Bollig, who had one goal in 62 regular season games last year, and two in 11 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. "Watching that game last night it’s awesome how those guys are playing well. While they’re not in the lineup it’s nice to kind of pick up the slack."
In a game that might’ve felt like do-or-die for prospects vying to remain in camp with the Flames, it was Bollig who showed the soft touch, netting his first two goals of the pre-season in a 4-3 overtime win against the Canucks at Rogers Arena on Saturday.
It’s not just the kids auditioning. Bollig knows what he’s up against.
The 28-year-old understands he’s auditioning for his own job.
"Some guys are going to have some bad news coming up but for me I can’t worry about it too much," Bollig said. "Coming in this year I wanted to just pick up where we left off last year in playoffs, my line was getting used a lot, we had a great role playing that energy line for the team.
"My sole focus this summer was to keep that, not lose a step and not go backward."
Including Bollig, the Flames have 12 forwards on one-way contracts, not including the entry-level deals of Monahan of Johnny Gaudreau. Further, 15 forwards under contract played at least 48 games last season. Three more, Ferland, Bennett and Drew Shore, are all looking for a full-time gig, too.
Vancouver opened the scoring in the exhibition tilt.
An Oliver Kylington miscue on a pinch at Vancouver’s blue line allowed Brendan Gaunce to tap-in a rebound off Radim Vrbata’s initial shot to give the Canucks a 1-0 lead at 9:55.
But it was erased with 3:19 remaining in the opening frame thanks to Bollig, who snapped a quick pass from Matt Stajan short side on Vancouver starter Ryan Miller to even the game 1-1. Just 25 seconds into the second period, Bollig added his second, again converting a quick pass from Stajan, who collected three assists in the contest, behind an unsettled Miller to give the Flames a 2-1 lead.
"A game like today where we’re counted on a bit more to play more minutes, you see the puck a bit," Stajan said. "You get some confidence, make more plays. [Bollig] had two quick releases, he had a good shot. You’ve just got to find him in the right spot and hopefully we’ll build off of this one."
Bollig’s second couldn't hold as the winner, though.
Bo Horvat tied the game 2-2 with 3:18 remaining in the second on a nifty tic-tac-toe offering, and Alex Friesen put Vancouver up 3-2 at 12:18 of the third, beating Karri Ramo with a change-up over the glove.
Markus Granlund evened the game with his second of the pre-season with 6:04 remaining in regulation, crashing the net to poke Morgan Klimchuk’s rebound behind Miller to draw the score 3-3. It forced an authentic look at 3-on-3 overtime.