VANCOUVER, B.C. – Off-season pickups Michael Cammalleri and Curtis Glencross are paying big dividends for the Calgary Flames.
Cammalleri had the first three-goal performance of his NHL career and Glencross fired the winner in the third period Thursday as the Flames beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-3. Glencross, with points in six of his last seven games, stripped the puck from defender Alex Edler, broke into the clear and beat Canuck netminder Curtis Sanford with a high backhand.
“It was a hell of a goal by Glencross, wasn’t it,” Cammalleri said of the Flames’ third-liner.
“He’s a pretty powerful skater and the finish was pretty impressive to go to your backhand like that, bury it in that situation … game winner on the road. That goal says something about his play.”
Cammalleri, who moved up to the top line with Jarome Iginla and Matthew Lombardi two games ago, drew Calgary even at 1-1 by banking his 100th NHL goal off Canucks defenceman Sami Salo during a power play.
“The first one was a bit cheesy as Gio (Mark Giordano) was driving the net pretty hard and I was trying to get it to him but Salo helped me out on that one,” said Cammalleri, who was obtained in a trade from Los Angeles that also involved a swap of draft picks.
“The other two were pretty good passes from Iginla. Let’s be honest here. The first pass he made to me was a great pass and I was in the right spot.”
Cammalleri, who has nine goals this season and five in his last six games, said the win was magnified because the teams have a rematch Saturday in Calgary when Vancouver begins the first of seven straight road games.
“I’m not going to hide it, it’s big,” said Cammalleri, a Richmond Hill, Ont., native in his sixth NHL season.
“We know how well they were playing. Now it gives us a chance to have a special series on Saturday.”
Calgary improved to 13-9-1 with a third consecutive win that left the Flames three points behind Northwest Division-leading Vancouver. The Canucks slipped to 14-7-2 after an 8-0-2 tear that included four straight victories.
Glencross, who signed as a free agent after playing half of last season with division rival Edmonton Oilers, appreciated Cammalleri’s quick release after Iginla fed him the puck on his second and third goals.
“He’s got a great shot,” said Glencross,” a Kindersley, Sask., product who was never drafted. “It’s kind of funny because every warm-up I’m in the corner passing him some pucks. His little warm-up, little ritual, is starting to pay off for him.
“We’ve both been having chances all year. He’s coming around and tonight’s going to build his confidence even more. If he keeps working hard the way he is, he’s going to keep burying them.”
The Canucks struggled at times to clear their zone and had too many passes and only two shots on a 53-second two-man advantage.
“Obviously, that was one of the turning points in the game,” said Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault. “We had an opportunity to make it 3-1 there and our execution was off.”
Vancouver had another opportunity for a 3-1 lead in the second period but Jannik Hansen was outwaited by goalie Miikka Kiprusoff on a break-in.
“If we score on that, it’s a different game for sure,” Daniel Sedin, who got his team-leading 11th goal, said of the squandered chances.
Darcy Hordichuk, with his first as a Canuck, and Mason Raymond, who tied the game 3-3 at 11:18 of the third period, also scored for Vancouver.
It was the first loss in four games for Sanford who has assumed the starter’s role while all-star netminder Roberto Luongo recovers from a groin strain.
“We gave them a couple bang-bang plays that we haven’t given up,” said Sanford who faced 33 shots, three more than Kiprusoff. “It would have been nice to make a couple saves for the guys there.”
NOTES: Flames centre Dustin Boyd was out with what the club called an upper body injury … Alex Bolduc was called up from AHL Manitoba Moose after Canuck forward Ryan Johnson was found to have fractures in his left foot and right index finger … Vancouver defenceman Kevin Bieksa returned to the lineup after missing six games with a fractured metatarsal bone in his left foot … Canuck winger Steve Bernier was sidelined by a shoulder injury suffered in Monday’s 3-2 win over Detroit.