SASKATOON – It was far from a dominating performance, but the Calgary Flames did enough to keep their pre-season record unblemished.
Playing in their fifth pre-season game, the Flames took advantage of a sluggish and untested New York Islanders split squad en route to a 3-2 win in NHL exhibition action Wednesday night in Saskatoon.
“I thought it was somewhat sloppy at times,” said Flames head coach Darryl Sutter. “I didn’t think we played a pretty strong game here. That being said, we also did some things that were key at different moments.”
Stefan Meyer, Curtis Glencross and Ales Kotalik all scored in the second period to give the Flames (5-0-0) a 3-0 lead they would not relinquish.
Calvin de Haan and Trevor Gillies each scored for the Islanders (0-2-0), who were playing their first two pre-season games Wednesday.
New York’s other split squad lost 3-1 in Philadelphia.
“There’s a little bit of rust, but considering we’re playing a team that’s been playing a few games, there’s a lot more positive than negative,” said Islanders head coach Scott Gordon.
“It’s not like we need a major overhaul—it’s our first game. We weren’t perfect, but they’ve played five games and have been far from perfect so we’re not going to complain.”
After a punchless first period, the Flames were all over Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro in the second.
Meyer scored two minutes into the second when he deflected Adam Pardy’s harmless looking shot past DiPietro.
Less than two minutes later, Glencross stormed into the Islander zone and knocked in his own rebound past a sprawled DiPietro to make it 2-0.
DiPietro’s woes continued when his clearance attempt bounced off Kotalik and in the net to give the Flames a 3-0 lead.
“We were a little bit flat,” said Meyer. “We had a pretty tough game last night, and it was a big turn around for us to come in. We responded pretty well and it’s good that everybody saw a good amount of ice tonight.”
DiPietro finished the night with 13 saves on 16 before making way for Mikko Koskinen in the third period. Despite the lacklustre night and blunder on the Kotalik tally, Gordon is confident in his netminder.
“We can attribute some of the game tonight on him not having a lot of work, which says a lot about how the guys played in front of him,” said Gordon. “It’s obviously encouraging.
“We had a lot of great opportunities that we didn’t connect on, so (DiPietro’s) game tonight is hard to evaluate.”
De Haan scored a power play goal for the Islanders before the end of the second period. Gillies scored early in the third, to give the Islanders hope. However, they could not put another passed Leland Irving who replaced Flames’ starter Miikka Kiprusoff at the start of the third period.
Kiprusoff made 14 saves on 15 shots to earn the win. Irivng gave up one goal on seven shots in the third period for the Flames.
The Islanders continue their pre-season schedule Friday on the road against New Jersey. Meanwhile, the Flames take on the Oilers in Edmonton on Friday.
“The bottom line is we want to be a better team,” added Sutter. “We have to make sure we’re fine tuning our play so we’re ready for the first game.”