CALGARY – David Moss is showing how dangerous he can be when he’s healthy.
The Calgary winger scored two goals and added an assist Thursday as the Flames wrapped up their pre-season schedule with a 4-2 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes.
“It was nice,” said the 29-year-old. “The first one was pretty typical for me and the empty-netter was obviously an easy one but that’s where the goals are going to come from for me so I’ll be around that net.”
Shoulder and ankle injuries forced Moss to start and end last NHL season on injured reserve–missing 24 games in the process. He still managed 17 goals, nearly equalling his career high of 20.
This pre-season, he’s been one of the few completely healthy Calgary forwards. As a result of nagging injuries to several Flames regulars up front, the only forward line that has stayed together in the pre-season of late has been Moss, Olli Jokinen and Curtis Glencross.
Jokinen had two assists Thursday, while Glencross scored for the second game in a row.
“We’re familiar with each other as we’ve played together last year, and they’ve kept us together for three games now,” Moss said. “Every game, as a line, we’ve gotten a little bit better and in the second and third, we were doing a lot of good things out there.”
Moss opened the scoring at 11:47 of the second on a backhand after being neatly set up in the slot by Jokinen.
The same trio struck again early in the third to extend Calgary’s lead to 3-0 with Jokinen winning a race to a puck at the end boards and neatly setting up Glencross in the slot.
In between those goals, Moss and Glencross were commended for their stellar defensive play as they helped kill off a 1:47 two-man advantage in the second period.
“That was a huge part of the game,” said Flames associate coach Craig Hartsburg. “Our guys did a great job, they had great sticks, got in shot lanes, and battled hard on it. The defence, but also Glencross and Moss did a great job on it.”
Anton Babchuk also scored for Calgary (3-3), which are off now for eight days before opening the regular season at home next Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Boyd Gordon and Ray Whitney scored for Phoenix (2-4), both goals against Miikka Kiprusoff coming in the final four minutes of the game.
“It’s going to be a good week for us, we’ve been slow to get guys back and we haven’t had a full line-up yet. It will give guys a chance to get to work–and we have a lot of things to work on,” Hartsburg said. “It’s early in the season and all parts of your game can get better.”
Calgary had the second-best power play in the league at home last season and they showed flashes of that prowess in the second period, connecting twice with the extra man.
Babchuk’s blast from the blue-line through a Glencross screen at 19:09 made it 2-0. Coyotes goaltender Jason LaBarbera said he didn’t see it at all.
“Oh my God he likes to shoot that puck. Every time he got the puck he was trying to get it on net,” LaBarbera said.
“As a goalie, the hardest part is trying to fight the traffic and see pucks through bodies. You can’t really mimic that in the summer. When they’re going D-to-D and one-timing it like that and there are guys in the way. You either have to hope someone blocks it, or it hits you, or goes wide.”
LaBarbera had 29 saves for Phoenix. The 31-year-old journeyman is battling Mike Smith for the No. 1 job, vacated when Ilya Bryzgalov signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Flyers.
“It’s a fun opportunity for me, for sure,” LaBarbera said. “I haven’t really got a full opportunity before other than in L.A. for a little bit. Other than that, for the last four years I’ve been pretty much a back-up.”
Kiprusoff, who played his first full game, ended up with 21 saves.
The Coyotes wrap up their pre-season schedule Saturday night at home against the San Jose Sharks.
The Flames’ power-play success came without two of its mainstays on the No. 1 unit in Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay.
Tanguay was given the night off while Iginla continues to recover from back spasms, which has sidelined him most of training camp. The Flames captain did skate for 20 minutes today though, his first time back on the ice since leaving practice early on Sept. 17.
Notes: Calgary D Cory Sarich (pelvis) made his pre-season debut… Phoenix scratches included former Flames C Daymond Langkow, C Martin Hanzal, and D Derek Morris… Getting the night off for Calgary was Tanguay and D Scott Hannan, who joined injured C Brendan Morrison, LW Rene Bourque, and RW Tim Jackman… Phoenix 22-year-old C Kyle Turris continues his contract hold out.