CALGARY - As Roberto Luongo's back-up, Vancouver goaltender Curtis Sanford knows he's not going to play a lot. However, he showed his new Canucks team-mates Friday that when does get called upon, he's capable of giving them an excellent game.
Sanford made 40 stops and defenceman Lukas Krajicek scored the go-ahead goal at 2:39 of the third period as Vancouver won 3-2 over the Calgary Flames in NHL pre-season action.
After two seasons with the St. Louis Blues, Sanford signed with Vancouver over the summer as a free agent. His first three appearances were less than stellar yielding eight goals on 51 shots. Friday didn't start any better with Wayne Primeau's harmless shot from the corner somehow squeaking through his pads at 9:08 putting the Flames ahead 1-0.
However, Sanford settled in after that and was spectacular the rest of the way.
"I wasn't going to let a goal like that get me out of my rhythm," Sanford said. "You just focus yourself on centre ice again and get right back at it."
Among his many spectacular stops was a dandy in the second when he slid across to stack the pads and deny Kristian Huselius of what looked like a sure goal on a Flames two-man advantage.
"I'm trying to settle in still and I haven't been playing the way I'm capable of quite yet, but tonight was a step in the right direction," said Sanford, 27.
Brad Isbister and Trevor Linden also scored for Vancouver (3-2-2). Wayne Primeau and Jarome Iginla replied for Calgary (1-4-2).
Although Vancouvers line-up was without several regulars including the Sedins, Markus Naslund, Brendan Morrison, and Mattias Ohlund, the emotion that usually characterizes Flames-Canucks games was still present.
Twenty-nine seconds into the second period, Iginla dropped the gloves with Canucks agitator Ryan Kesler.
"I can say we don't like each other, that's for sure," said Kesler of his second career bout with the Flames captain. "We had a gritty group tonight and we played that way."
The fight did seem to spark Iginla who shortly after exiting the penalty box put the Flames ahead deflecting Dion Phaneufs slapshot past Sanford to make it 2-1.
However, Linden tied it from a scramble at 13:18 of the second.
The Flames have scored just 12 times in their seven games with the power-play in particular a concern struggling again Friday in going 0-for-8.
"You like to finish off the offence for sure when you have got that kind of momentum going, particularly in the second period, but Sanford played one of his best games I'm sure and he made a difference," said Flames coach Mike Keenan.
Kiprusoff had 27 stops for Calgary.
The Flames wrap up its pre-season schedule Saturday night in San Jose. The Canucks wrap up against Edmonton.
Notes: Calgary RW Owen Nolan tweaked his groin in the first period and left the game for precautionary reasons... At 512 consecutive games played, Morrison is the NHLs current ironman leader. However, the streak could be in jeopardy depending on the severity of the wrist injury he suffered Wednesday... Vancouver opens the regular season next week against San Jose while the Flames also open at home getting started Thursday night against Philadelphia... Vancouver D Aaron Miller, a free agent signing over the summer, is expected to play against Edmonton. Miller has missed a majority of training camp due to abdominal surgery on Sept. 11.