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Flames cruise past Canucks in 5-1 win

by Aaron Vickers / NHL.com
CALGARY -- There's just something about the preseason if you're the Calgary Flames.

Greg Nemisz needed just 47 seconds to put the Flames on the board and Alex Tanguay chipped in a goal and an assist as the Flames kicked off their preseason schedule on a winning note with a 5-1 victory against the Vancouver Canucks in split-squad action Tuesday night at Scotiabank Saddledome.

Mark Mancari replied with the lone goal for Vancouver.

Calgary will be the first to admit preseason wins don't always guarantee regular-season success. The club finished 10th in the Western Conference last season, three points shy of the Chicago Blackhawks for eighth place and a berth in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"It doesn't mean a whole lot," Tanguay said. "Hockey's played on a daily basis. We could go 5-0 to start the season and then you have to back it up."

The Canucks, last season's President's Trophy winner and Stanley Cup finalist looked anything but, icing just three returnees in Cody Hodgson, Andrew Alberts and Victor Oreskovich. The trio combined for 56 regular games for Vancouver last year.

It was all a part of the team's game plan to get a look at their youngsters early on.

"That's what they wanted for the first two games, is to get the young guys in and give them a feel about what the NHL level is like," said Canucks starting goaltender Manny Legace, who stopped 19 of 22 shots in just over 30 minutes of action before giving way to backup Matt Climie. "It's just to get them going and to see how fast it really is. It's really good to get them in early."

The Canucks had the services of NHL veterans Nicholas Dimitrakos, Todd Fedoruk, Steve Begin, Anders Eriksson and Legace. All are on free agent tryouts with Vancouver.

"I think everybody's helping out," Alberts said. "As long as these young guys keep an open ear and they listen, all of the veteran guys are talking a lot."

The inexperience on the squad showed.

"There are going to be breakdowns and mistakes and missed assignments, but it's just part of hockey and part of learning for the young guys," Alberts added.

Calgary dictated the pace for the most part, outside a flurry of action that forced goaltender Henrik Karlsson to make several stops shortly after coming into relief of Mikka Kiprusoff, who stopped nine of 10 shots before leaving the game midway through the second period. Karlsson turned aside all 14 shots in relief to preserve the win.

"Both of them looked good in there," Flames winger Tom Kostopoulos said of his goaltenders. "I thought the D looked really good skating and moving the puck and I thought our forwards created a lot of chances. It was a good overall team effort."

The Canucks took nearly six minutes to record their first shot on goal and found themselves down 2-0 before the 10-minute mark.

After Nemisz converted a Kostopoulos feed from behind the net in the first minute of action, Kiprusoff's shorthanded clearing attempt found the stick of Tanguay at center ice, as he broke into Vancouver's zone and fed a streaking Rene Bourque for a tap-in behind Legace at 8:50 of the first period.

Tanguay made it 3-0 with 2:07 remaining in the opening period, beating Legace glove side after taking a drop-pass in the slot from Paul Byron.  

Mancari brought the Canucks to within two just 23 seconds into the second. Mancari took a feed from Fedoruk and chipped the puck over a sprawled Kiprusoff to make it 3-1. It was the closest they'd come to the Flames.

Calgary added a pair of power play goals in the third from Kostopoulos and newly acquired Lee Stempniak to put the game out of reach.

Byron, acquired in the trade that sent longtime Flames blueliner Robyn Regehr to the Buffalo Sabres, liked what he saw out of his new club.

"It was great … a good way to start the preseason; get off on a good note and keep building from there every day, hopefully get better," he said.
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