CALGARY, Alberta - While the result may not have been what they wanted, the Winnipeg Jets were proud of their effort in a 2-0 preseason loss to the Calgary Flames.
In comparison, the two line-ups were much different. Winnipeg's group, with the exception of a few veterans, was comprised mostly of players trying to make a final impression. Calgary, on the other hand, iced a line-up that may be close to the final group on opening night.
Outside of the two goals in 33 seconds in the middle frame, head coach Paul Maurice liked a lot of what he saw.
Video: Monahan, Bennett lead Flames past Jets, 2-0
"I liked where their brains were and where the effort was," said Maurice.
"I liked that game an awful lot. We were very consistent. We're not moving the puck the way you would with a little more experience back there… They're playing exhibition hockey. We all understand that. We have guys in our line-up trying to survive the big cut. They worked hard."
After a scoreless first period that saw the Jets kill off a four-minute Tucker Poolman high-sticking call, a Nathan Beaulieu tripping penalty in the second period offered the Flames another shot on the man advantage.
Eric Comrie made a couple saves in tight early on that second Calgary power play, but Sean Monahan's deflection of a Mark Giordano point shot in the high slot beat Comrie high, opening the scoring.
"It was something we worked on. We watched some video on it. They made a nice play. They're a good PP team," said Anthony Bitetto, who led the Jets in ice time with 22:50.
"Just 33 seconds later, Sam Bennett tapped in a cross-crease pass from Mikael Backlund to double the Calgary lead to 2-0."
Comrie's night was over after 40 minutes. He finished with 18 saves.
"They had a good line-up in. We could tell that. But our guys put in a really good effort all night long," said Comrie, who has had five periods of work in the preseason.
"I was happy with all of them. I did the right things that I had to do. My game is trending the right way I felt throughout the whole preseason, I got better as it went on. I really liked my practices in camp too. I've been battling hard and making sure I've done the little things right."
Mikhail Berdin took over between the pipes in the third period, which was his preseason debut at the NHL level.
The 21-year-old was picked in the sixth round of the 2016 NHL Draft and played 23 games for the Manitoba Moose last season, compiling a 0.927 save percentage.
He stopped all 13 shots he faced in the final 20 minutes.
"He's earned it. We wanted to see it. We wanted to see him there. Some guys, the game gets easier for them in the NHL because it's easier to read. Most people are where they're supposed to be most of the time," said Maurice, before commenting on Berdin's toe drag around a Calgary forward.
"He'll run the top on our power play next game," he cracked. "Slip the pads on and we'll tell him to jump in."
With two games left on the preseason schedule - the first coming on Thursday against the Edmonton Oilers at Bell MTS Place - Maurice plans to reduce the number of players in camp soon.
"I'll thank each of them for the work ethic in training camp. They were a big part of us being able to have the kind of camp we've had," said Maurice. "They've pushed hard every day. The challenge for them is to keep it going with the Moose. If you're not playing for the Jets and you get cut, you've got one goal - that's to improve your standing.
"When you leave, have the coaches and management feel that you've improved and that you're a more viable option than you were last year for the Jets. To a man I'm happy with the way those guys played."
Josh Morrissey left the game in the second period and didn't return. Maurice said the move was just precautionary.
"He was tightening up and we didn't want to get to the point so he got pulled," Maurice said, adding it was unrelated to a shot block Morrissey had in the game.
"Just some tightness. We've got 15 players with it now."