CALGARY – Alex Tanguay hopes his quick start to the pre-season is a sign of things to come.
Tanguay had a goal and an assist Tuesday as the Calgary Flames cruised to a 5-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks in split-squad pre-season play.
“Throughout the years, for the most part, I’ve always been a slow starter for some reason,” Tanguay said. “I can’t really explain it. This year, I’ve really tried to put my focus on having a good start to the season. I’m trying to use the pre-season games as a stepping ground to get there.”
Tom Kostopoulos, who also had a goal and assist against Vancouver, would love to see Tanguay translate his exhibition performance into regular-season success.
“It’s good to see Tanguay making those passes that he makes in pre-season,” Kostopoulos said. “Hopefully when the puck drops on opening night he’s flying like that. He looked really good out there. He created a lot of chances.”
Greg Nemisz, Rene Bourque and Lee Stempniak also scored for Calgary, which boasted a much more veteran-laden lineup than Vancouver. Defenceman Brendan Mikkelson chipped in with a pair of assists.
Mark Mancari scored the lone goal for the Canucks, whose lineup consisted of mainly rookies and other training camp hopefuls.
“We’ve got a lot of guys playing their first NHL game,” said Vancouver defenceman Andrew Alberts. “It’s good to get one under the belt, especially for the young guys. Things didn’t come out the way we wanted to, but a lot of guys got to see some action and that was the main thing.”
In the other split-squad game in Vancouver, the Canucks downed the Flames 4-3.
In Calgary, Miikka Kiprusoff made nine saves to record the win and even picked up on assist on Bourque’s goal. Henrik Karlsson stopped all 14 shots he faced after replacing Kiprusoff at the 10:51 mark of the second period.
Manny Legace got the start for Vancouver, allowing three goals on 22 shots. Matt Climie made eight saves in relief.
The Flames jumped out to a 1-0 lead just 47 seconds into the first period when Nemisz one-timed a pass from Kostopoulos past Legace.
“He was calling for it,” said Kostopoulos, who also credited Olli Jokinen for his work on the opening shift and throughout the game. “It was a good forecheck by us. Olli creates a lot of lanes just by driving the net and then Nemo was open in front. It was a nice goal by him, a nice shot.”
With Vancouver enjoying a man advantage, Kiprusoff vacated his net to flip a long pass up to a Tanguay, who gained the zone and slid a cross-ice pass to Bourque for an easy tap-in goal at 8:50.
Tanguay then wired a shot from the slot past Legace at 17:53 to put the Flames up 3-0 after one period.
The Canucks got on the board just 21 seconds into the second when Mancari took a pass from Todd Fedoruk. The big winger charged to the net and flipped the puck over Kiprusoff’s pad while falling to the ice.
“He’s strong on the puck, he protects it well, he’s confident with it,” said Vancouver assistant coach Rick Bowness, who called the shots behind the bench for the Canucks. “He throws it at the net, he’s a big body. That’s what we hoped he would bring to the table and he did.”
The Canucks took 10 straight minor penalties from the second period on and the Flames made them pay with goals by Kostopoulos and Stempniak in the final frame.
Notes: Legace played last season in the German Ice Hockey League for the Iserlohn Roosters. He went 17-22-0 with a 2.51 goals against average. … The Canucks and Flames meet for the first time in regular season Nov. 1 in Calgary. … The Flames finished the 2010-11 season with a perfect 7-0 record.