CALGARY – It wasn’t a thing of beauty, but Michael Cammalleri was pleased to score in his debut with the Calgary Flames.
Cammalleri redirected a cross-ice pass from Jarome Iginla past Phoenix goalie Michael Tellqvist early in the second period. The goal stood up as the game-winner as the Flames downed the Phoenix Coyotes 3-1 in NHL pre-season action Tuesday.
“It didn’t look too tough, did it? I think most of you guys could have put that one in,” Cammalleri told reporters of the perfect set-up from the Calgary captain. “I kind of just threw my whole frame at the puck and whatever happened, happened. I was trying to sweep it with my stick.
“I don’t know if I ended up getting it or not, but I didn’t kick it so it’s a goal anyway.”
Andre Roy, who signed the Flames as a free agent on July 20, also scored in the second period. He said he couldn’t let Cammalleri get all the attention.
“I want people to talk about me too,” Roy joked. “It’s just good to contribute once in a while.”
Matthew Lombardi also scored for the Flames (2-1-0), while Miikka Kiprusoff and Curtis McElhinney shared the goaltending duties.
Viktor Tikhonov, a first-round pick (28th overall) by the Coyotes in this year’s draft, scored the lone goal for Phoenix.
The Coyotes, who also lost 3-2 to the Flames Wednesday night in Winnipeg, are now winless in three exhibition games.
“We don’t concern ourselves with the wins or loses at this time of the year,” said Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky. “You just play hard and focus and get ready for the season and I liked the way our kids worked tonight. They worked hard.”
The Coyotes were playing without goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, defenceman Ed Jovanovski, forwards Olli Jokinen, Shane Doan, Peter Mueller and highly-touted rookie Kyle Turris.
Lombardi opened the scoring during a Calgary power play at 9:37 of the first when he pounced on a rebound and deposited the puck in the net past Tellqvist while taking a hit from defenceman Logan Stephenson.
Tellqvist was under fire throughout the entire man advantage as he stopped a pair of close-in shots off the stick of Iginla and a point blast by defenceman Adrian Aucoin before surrendering the goal to Lombardi.
After Cammalleri put the Flames up by two, Roy spotted a loose puck behind Tellqvist and alertly deposited it into the wide-open net.
“I guess I was in the right spot at the right time,” Roy said.
Kiprusoff stopped all nine shots he faced in his first action of the pre-season before being replaced in net midway through the second by McElhinney, who finished with 13 saves.
In the third, Tikhonov made a nice move around Calgary defenceman John Negrin before firing a shot just inside the far post behind McElhinney.
“I saw the defenceman just kind of coming close, so I hit the brakes and gave him some room and put it where it needed to go,” Tikhonov said. “Camp’s just been a great experience, just learning from all the veterans. Even the young guys are showing me a whole bunch of stuff I’ve never seen before, so it’s just great.” The Flames will play their fourth exhibition game in as many days when they host the Florida Panthers at the Saddledome Friday night and Cammalleri hopes to get back in the lineup again.
“Me, Iggy and Bert (Todd Bertuzzi) were just talking here and I said ‘I hope they put me in tomorrow because I’m sick of practising’,” Cammalleri said. Notes: Also playing their first games of the pre-season for the Flames were forwards Brett Sutter, Kris Chucko and Warren Peters. Michael Stone, a member of the Western Hockey League’s Calgary Hitmen for the past two seasons, started on defence for the Coyotes. The 18-year-old blue-liner, who was listed on the starting lineup as Ed Stone, is expected to be returned to the Hitmen for another season at the Major Junior level. . . . Tikhonov is the grandson of famous Russian coach of the same name.