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FLAMES LOSE YOUNG STARS OPENER

Edmonton scores three in third period to edge Calgary

by TY PILSON @typilson / calgaryflames.com

PENTICTON, B.C. - The Edmonton Oilers exploded for three goals in three-and-a-half minutes to start the third period Friday, as they dug out of a hole to beat the Flames 4-2 at the Young Stars Classic tournament Friday.

Juuso Valimaki, the Flames first-round pick in the recent draft, and former first-round pick Mark Jankowski both scored for the Flames, while Tyler Parsons made 21 saves in the loss.

Highly-touted free-agent signing Spencer Foo collected an assist on the Jankowski goal.

Chad Butcher notched a pair, while Kirill Maksimov and Evan Polei added singles for the Oil.

Valimaki's goal came after Glenn Gawdin showed some speed streaking out of the Calgary zone with a head of steam, grabbing a loose puck that was just outside the blueline. He made a quick drop pass to Zach Fischer after he gained the Edmonton zone, who moved it to Valimaki who quickly snapped a shot from the high slot over the right pad of Dylan Wells, who ended the night with 26 saves.

Butcher responded for the Oilers to tie it up before Jankowski put the Flames up 2-1.

Foo made a nifty spinning pass to Jankowski who then moved the puck to Andrew Mangiapane who worked the quick give-and-go back to Jankowski who then snapped a wrist-shot high glove-side past Wells.

Jankowski - who centred the Flames top line with Foo and Andrew Mangiapane - looked strong for the Flames for much of the game, especially on a pair of powerplays where he created chances and almost scored on the doorstep after a nice move around a defender.

The Flames led 2-1 after 40 minutes and led 17-15 in shots.

Butcher with his second of the game on a breakaway, Polei's door-step deflection of a Ryan Mantha point shot, and a quick snapshot from Maksimov in the slot in the final frame vaulted the Oilers ahead 4-2 and led to a Flames timeout to regroup.

However, they weren't able to beat Wells again before the final horn sounded.

"I think it's the first game for everyone," said Jankowski. "I think we were definitely a little rusty and some things that we definitely have to clean up. We played well for good stretches of the game, I thought. One tough stretch at the beginning of the third period and their goalie made a heckuva save and that led to their tying goal and then they had a couple right after that. I think we bounced back pretty good after that but obviously you can't really fall asleep for that amount of time in this game and it came back to haunt us."

When asked about his thoughts on the play of himself and his linemates, Jankowski said the trio played well but he sees areas they can improve.

"It was great," said Jankowski. "They're both two really good players. I got to play with Mang a lot last year so that was a little familiar and then Foo, obviously, he's a great player and it was real easy to play with him, too. I've been skating with him for a little bit in the summer, for about a month, and ya, it's really good playing with those two guys and I think as the game wore on we got a little bit better and we generated more chances which was good. We got one at the end of the second there and we were pushing in the third and I think if we just bear down on a few of our chances and put the puck in the net we'll be good."

Heading into this tournament, one player which team brass was watching closely was Valimaki and Young Stars head coach Ryan Huska said the defenceman certainly delivered in the opening game.

"In my opinion, he was our best player on the ice tonight," said Huska. "When you step back or you're standing on the bench watching guys play, he was noticeable almost every shift. And we talked about that this morning, that that's the way you have to play here is you have to make sure people will recognize your name and number on your back. So you have to do something all the time and I thought he played really well in a lot of different areas."   

The Flames have Saturday off before returning to the ice against the Canucks Sunday at 3 p.m. MTN. The game will be streamed live on calgaryflames.com.

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