The Flames fell 3-1 to the Canucks in Vancouver Thursday night in their penultimate pre-season game.
Sean Monahan scored for the Flames, while Mike Smith stopped 27 of 30 shots.
Jake Virtanen, Michael Del Zotto, and Darren Archibald got on the board for Vancouver. Anders Nilsson stopped 30 of the 31 shots he faced.
Video: CGY@VAN: Monahan deflects PPG in from the slot
The Flames went one-for-seven on the powerplay while the Canucks capitalized on one of their two chances with the man-advantage.
"I'm a little concerned, certainly, after this game, and my biggest concern is the compete level," coach Glen Gulutzan said following the loss. "We just think it's going to happen, and our compete level is not where it needs to be. We're gonna find out in the next few days what it's like not to compete."
While the Flames' top line of Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, and Micheal Ferland tested Nilsson early and often, it was the Canucks who opened the scoring.
Virtanen danced into the Flames' zone with Sam Gagner. Their give-and-go left Virtanen all alone to shoot, and his wrister beat Smith five-hole.
In the second period, 15 seconds into a Canucks powerplay, Del Zotto's point shot was tipped by Michael Frolik and soared up and over Smith, giving Vancouver a two-goal lead.
The Canucks scored their third goal of the game in the final frame. Archibald, who had been sent off for tripping, stepped out of the box as soon as his team killed off their fifth penalty of the game and scored five-hole on a breakaway.
"If you're gonna make mistakes now is the time to do it I guess," Smith said. "You know, pre-season is a funny thing. It doesn't really have any inkling on how the season's going to go. But I think this last game coming up, there's gotta be, definitely, (a) sense of urgency that has to pick up. We understand that in here and it's been talked about, but moving forward, we're going to have to push things forward and along, and it's just a process."
The Flames ended Nilsson's shutout bid on their seventh powerplay of the game. Kris Versteeg deftly passed the puck to Monahan in the high slot, whose perfect tip beat Nilsson.
"We're not going to be a run and gun team that makes pretty plays all night," captain Mark Giordano said. "We're going to be a team who wins a lot of close games this year, so we gotta smarten up and get back to work.
"We got outworked and that's not acceptable."
The Flames will host the Winnipeg Jets at the Scotiabank Saddledome (Saturday, 7 p.m. MT) for their final pre-season test.