VANCOUVER – Not only did Jannik Hansen improved his chances of staying with the Vancouver Canucks, he might have helped Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault find a permanent linemate for Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows.
Hansen scored two goals as the Vancouver Canucks clobbered the Calgary Flames 6-1 in NHL pre-season action Wednesday night. “I want to show that I can compete and be here for the long run,” said Hansen.
Alex Edler, Pavel Demitra, Lawrence Nycholat and Mason Raymond also scored for the Canucks (5-0-0). Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler each had three assists.
Robyn Regehr countered for Calgary (4-2-0).
The Hansen, Kesler and Burrows unit was utilized primarily in a energy-line role Wednesday, but they provided plenty of offensive fuel while seeing limited power play duty.
Burrows and Kesler, who formed two-thirds of a line last season but did not have a permanent linemate, each recorded three assists.
“It’s easy to play with those two,” said Hansen. “They’re good players and they really puck-pursue and they’re strong on puck. It’s a lot of fun. If you find one of them with the puck, you know that you’re going to end up with the puck.”
Hansen leads the Canucks in pre-season scoring with three goals and two assists in three games.
Hansen, a native of Herlev, Denmark, looked like he would stick with the Canucks after he performed well late in the 2006-07 Stanley Cup playoffs as a rookie. But his hopes were hampered by a broken thumb that he suffered in the pre-season.
As a result, he spent most of last season with Vancouver’s top farm team in Manitoba and appeared in only five games with the parent club. But Kesler gives his performance this pre-season two thumbs up.
“He’s playing with a lot more confidence and he’s just keeping it simple,” said Kesler. “Not to say that he was doing too much last year. This year, he’s keeping it (more) simple. He’s finding the puck and finding the net, which is good for him.”
The Flames actually outshot the Canucks 36-23 but were stymied by the stellar goaltending of Roberto Luongo, who excelled in his first game after being named Vancouver’s captain.
Edler opened the scoring only 21 seconds into the game as he fired Pavol Demitra’s pass over the shoulder of Calgary goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff. It was Vancouver’s first shot of the game.
Hansen doubled Vancouver’s advantage at 4:57 as he completed a nice three-way passing play with Kesler and Burrows.
For the rest of the period, Calgary enjoyed many more scoring chances. Luongo stoned David Moss twice, Dion Phaneuf, Jarome Iginla and Andre Roy to preserve the 2-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Regehr finally beat Luongo, on a slapshot from the point, at 4:54 of the second period. Demitra gave the Canucks on a power play near the midway mark, increasing Vancouver’s lead to 3-1, as he planted a well-placed Kyle Wellwood pass behind Kiprusoff.
The goal ended Calgary’s perfect pre-season penalty-killing record after 31 attempts . The Flames entered the game with a 28-for-28 mark and killed two advantages earlier in the game. During the 2007-08 regular season, they were 20th overall with an 81.5 per cent penalty-killing efficiency rate.
Nycholat notched his first goal of the pre-season about six minutes later, putting the Canucks ahead 4-1. The 30-year-old Calgary native, a career minor-leaguer since turning pro 11 years ago, one-timed a beautiful Burrows pass from behind the net.
Luongo was shaken up early in the third period as teammate Rob Davison crashed into his net. Hansen scored his second goal at 4:58 of the final frame, assisted again by Kesler and Burrows.
Raymond rounded out the scoring at 9:51.
NOTES: Vancouver signed rookie winger Dan Gendur on Wednesday following an impressive training camp and pre-season. He scored a goal in one game before being sent to Manitoba of the AHL. Gendur, a 21-year-old Victoria native, was the Canucks’ seventh-round draft choice in 2007. Terms were not disclosed. . . . The Flames will not replace former assistant coach Wayne Fleming, who left last month to become head coach of Avangard Omsk in Russia’s Continental Hockey League. . . . Canuck veterans Mattias Ohlund, Willie Mitchell and Daniel and Henrik Sedin received the night off.