Canucks’ Virtanen Scores OT Winner Against Flames

CALGARY — Jake Virtanen scored twice, including the overtime winner, as the Vancouver Canucks opened the preseason with a 3-2 comeback win over the Calgary Flames on Monday.

After tying the game with just over four minutes left in the third, Virtanen won it 1:32 into extra time, ripping a wrist shot past Cam Talbot on a two-on-one, a sequence that came after a TJ Brodie turnover.

It was one of two split-squad games between the Pacific Division rivals on Monday. The two sides also met in Victoria, B.C.

Johnny Gaudreau and Michael Frolik scored for Calgary. Mitch Eliot also scored for the Canucks.

Calgary Flames Johnny Gaudreau
Calgary Flames’ Johnny Gaudreau (Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports)

Calgary iced the far more experienced line-up and it showed in the first 40 minutes. The Flames had the Canucks hemmed in early, reeling off the first 14 shots on goal. The shots were 18-2 after one period and 30-7 after two before Vancouver climbed back into the game with two goals in the third.

Canucks goaltender Richard Bachman played the full game and made 36 stops.

Calgary starter David Rittich exited the game after 32-plus minutes after making just four saves on four shots. Talbot gave up three goals on nine shots in relief.

Virtanen’s tying goal at 15:42 of the third came from a sharp angle. The former Calgary Hitmen star picked up a loose puck at centre and wheeled down the wing, wristing a shot that beat Talbot short-side.

Jake Virtanen Vancouver Canucks
Jake Virtanen, Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Eliot’s goal five minutes into the period came on a slapshot that dribbled through Talbot’s pads.

For Talbot and Milan Lucic, who skated on the third line, it was their first game in a Flames uniform after playing last season for the Edmonton Oilers. Talbot was signed as a free-agent on July 1 to split time with Rittich, while Lucic was acquired in a trade that sent James Neal to the Oilers.

Shouts of “Looch” were regularly heard from the Scotiabank Saddledome crowd.

Calgary took a 2-0 lead at 15:02 of the second when Sam Bennett laid a hit, stole the puck and set up Frolik.

Bennett was skating in the vacant spot on the second line that normally belongs to unsigned restricted free agent Matthew Tkachuk, who continues to sit out.

Gaudreau opened the scoring 7:30 into the game when his long shot beat Bachman inside the post.

Darren Haynes, The Canadian Press