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Trio shine in Flames' 2-1 win over Canucks

by Aaron Vickers @AAVickers / CalgaryFlames.com

CALGARY, AB -- The top line of the Calgary Flames scored both goals and combined for five points to defeat the Vancouver Canucks 2-1 in preseason action at Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday.

Troy Brouwer had a goal and an assist, Sam Bennett had two assists and 18-year-old Matthew Tkachuk scored his first goal for the Flames (2-2-0). Guillaume Brisebois scored for the Canucks (1-1-1).

"We're learning each other," Brouwer said. "The good thing is we've started camp together from Day One. We've had lots of good conversations. [Tkachuk] was beside me in the room. They've moved him around after a couple of shift changes here. I think the three of us work well together. There's a lot of pedigree from each guy that fits well together. It's just been a pretty smooth transition so far."

Calgary goaltender Brian Elliott made 17 saves before being replaced by Tyler Parsons in the third period. Parsons made seven saves. Richard Bachman made 15 saves in two periods before Thatcher Demko made 11 saves in relief in the third. 

Tkachuk broke a 1-1 tie at 14:34 of the second period, pushing a rebound on Brouwer's deflected pass by Bachman and over the goal line on his second attempt to put Calgary ahead. Tkachuk, the No. 6 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, also scored for Calgary at the Young Stars Classic rookie tournament in Penticton two weeks ago.

"That's where the goals are scored," said Tkachuk, who scored 30 goals with London of the Ontario Hockey League last season. "It's a little bit tougher in this league than in junior. You've got some of those D out there that are 6-4, 6-5, 220, that are pushing you out of the way. It's tough but you have to keep battling. I know what my strengths are and I know what I need to provide to this team to help win."

Morgan Klimchuk hit the post on the short side at 16:23 of the third, and Oliver Kylington had his point shot stopped by Demko to keep Vancouver within one goal late.

The Canucks pulled Demko for an extra attacker with 1:20 left in regulation while on the power play, but Parsons, in his first pre-season action, made a blocker save off Philip Larsen, and pad saves on Alexandre Burrows and Markus Granlund to preserve the win. 

Brouwer scored his first of the pre-season, and first with the Flames, at 6:08 of the first period to give Calgary a 1-0 lead.

"It's always nice to score goals no matter what it is," Brouwer said. "It's always a good feeling. You want to have that good feeling going into the start of the season. You don't want to be frustrated or feeling the squeeze before the season even starts. For him … I remember my first one. Even in preseason it felt great. I'm sure he's going to really enjoy it tonight."

Tkachuk left the game momentarily after taking a late hit from Joseph LaBate 2:25 into the second period but did return. LaBate was assessed a minor penalty for interference on the play. He also fought Flames forward Micheal Ferland on his next shift.

"I honestly really didn't pay attention to (the fight) too much because I was just getting back," Tkachuk said. "Obviously such a character move … such a team guy. I told him I owe him dinner for that one."

Brisebois tied the game at 10:42 of the second, sliding down from the point and taking a pass from Granlund before beating Elliott over the glove for Vancouver's lone goal. 

Goal of the Game: With Tkachuk providing the screen in front of the net, Bennett slid a pass between two Canucks and into the slot that Brouwer one-timed by Bachman to put Calgary up 1-0.

Save of the Game: Elliott went post-to-post and extended his right toe to stop Jack Skille, who redirected a no-look, spinning cross-ice pass off the rush from Canucks forward Brendan Gaunce midway through the first period. "He never gets himself out of position," Brouwer said. "That's what's so reliable about him. We were looking at the Jumbotron after the first period. That 2-on-1 pass that was made … the shooter didn't have a whole lot of space because [Elliott] was over there square to the shot. That's what he relies on is his positioning and his athletic ability to get around the net."

Unsung Moment of the Game: Elliott's miscue playing the puck on the boards in his own end left Burrows looking at an empty net, but his shot on the vacated goal was blocked by Calgary defenceman Dennis Wideman at 3:14 of the second. Wideman led the game with seven blocked shots. 

Highlight of the Game: Flames forward Garnet Hathaway caught Gaunce with a hard hit at the blueline midway through the third period, prompting Burrows to retaliate with a roughing minor on Mark Jankowski. After the whistle, Hathaway and Skille fought. 

They said it: "That's what I have to do. If I want to be successful that's where I have to be. You don't really realize how strong they are until you're in a scrum with them in the corner. They've got some good players over there." - Tkachuk on getting into the dirty areas on the ice

"That's the goal. You want to limit your movement and just try to let the puck come to you as much as possible. When guys are taking care of their jobs and boxing out, that allows you to just play the shooter and be calm in there." - Elliott on playing a calm game in net

"You've got to be aware on the ice. Sometimes junior moves a little bit slower, even though kids have a lot of energy. This pace out here … there's not a whole lot so if you admire a pass a little bit or take a little bit too much time there's going to be a guy on you. There are a lot of big boys in this league that can put you on your butt. You have to make sure you're not putting yourself in vulnerable positions. That being said, you are going to get hit once in a while and you're going to get hit hard once in a while. You've got to play hard, you've got to know that it's coming, protect yourself. He did a good job of taking the hit. I thought Ferly did a phenomenal job standing up for him as well." -Brouwer on LaBate's hit on Tkachuk

Need to Know: Elliott has allowed one goal in four periods of pre-season action. Calgary went 2-for-6 on the power play; Vancouver was 0-for-3. Dougie Hamilton led the Flames in ice time at 23:19. Hathaway finished with four hits and seven minutes in penalties.

What's Next: The Flames host the Winnipeg Jets at Scotiabank Saddledome on Sunday (7:00 PM MT; TSN3, SN960).

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