VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Canucks’ revamped top line lived up to its billing Friday night.
Henrik and Daniel Sedin and Radim Vrbata combined for six points as the Canucks blanked the Calgary Flames 3-0 in NHL pre-season action.
In the process, they gave hope to a beleaguered power play that struggled most of last season as the Canucks missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008. All of Vancouver’s goals came in man-advantage situations.
“It’s good to show ourselves and the coaches and the team that we’re gonna be dangerous when we’re out there,” said Henrik Sedin who led his team with three assists.
Linden Vey, Jannik Hansen and Vrbata, with his first goal as a Canuck, scored, while Daniel Sedin provided two assists for the victors.
Henrik Sedin likes the chemistry that the top line is starting to develop in the two games that they’ve played together.
“We were close again tonight to (getting) a few more goals,” said Henrik Sedin. “There’s a few things that we need to work on. We’ve only played two games together and a few practices. But the way he moves the puck and the way he shoots out there, it should be good.”
The line’s offensive output was the kind that Vrbata envisioned when he opted to leave the Phoenix Coyotes and sign as a free agent with the Canucks in July. The 33-year-old chose Vancouver largely for the chance to play with the Sedins.
“I don’t think I could complain,” said Vrbata. “It’s just the second game of my season, but I think we did lots of little things that we can do. The more we skate together, in a few practices and especially in games, you learn from that. I get to know their tendencies and stuff. Offensively, I think, if we shoot the puck, we should be fine.”
Canucks goalie Ryan Miller, making his first start and appearance since becoming their top free-agent signing in the summer, and Joacim Eriksson didn’t have to deal with many Calgary scoring attempts. They shared an 18-save shutout as the Canucks improved to 3-1 in exhibition play and the Flames dropped to 3-2.
Miller had seven saves— all in the first period. He did not face any while playing half of the second period. His toughest save was his first as he stopped Sam Bennett on a partial breakaway before the game was two minutes old.
But Miller wasn’t worried about the limited activity as he tried to familiarize himself with his defencemen’s tendencies.
“I was just trying to enjoy the first time putting the jersey on (in a game),” he said. “It was a pretty big thrill. Honestly, it was fun.”
Vancouver converted 3-of-6 power plays while Calgary had three. But Vancouver’s dominant offensive showing was offset by the fact the Canucks dressed mostly veterans while the Flames mainly iced prospects. Calgary’s inexperience was evident in the shots total as the hosts enjoyed a 33-18 edge.
Calgary No. 1 goaltender Karri Ramo was unbeatable as the Canucks outshot the Flames 8-7 in a scoreless first period. Doug Carr replaced Ramo at the start of the second period and allowed all three Vancouver goals.
Despite the lopsided loss, Flames coach Bob Hartley liked what he saw in his prospects, even though Calgary trailed 2-0 after the second.
“The Sedins were the way that they usually are,” said Hartley. “So I feel that special teams were the difference. But I’m very proud of our kids. This (Vancouver squad) was a very good NHL team.”
Notes: Vancouver lost centre Brad Richardson to injury after he collided with Brandon Bollig in the second period. … The Canucks placed goaltender Jakob Markstrom on waivers Friday. Markstrom was acquired last spring from Florida as part of the Roberto Luongo trade. If Markstrom is not claimed, he is expected to be assigned to Utica of the AHL. … After the game, the Canucks returned top 2014 draft choice Jake Virtanen, who is recuperating from off-season shoulder surgery, to the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL. Top 2012 choice Brendan Gaunce was among 10 players sent to Utica. … Calgary centre Markus Granlund left in the second period with an upper-body injury.