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Gaudreau, Tkachuk lead Calgary Flames to 4-1 pre-season win over Vancouver Canucks

Canucks say defenceman Travis Hamonic isn’t opting out of NHL season
Vancouver Canucks’ Jason Dickinson, right, is checked by Calgary Flames’ Nikita Zadorov during second period NHL pre-season hockey action in Calgary, Friday, Oct. 1, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Johnny Gaudreau scored his first goal of the pre-season and added an assist Friday to lead the host Calgary Flames to a 4-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks,

Matthew Tkachuk also had a goal and an assist in Calgary’s first pre-season victory. Mikael Backlund and Brett Ritchie, into an empty net, also scored. The Flames started the pre-season 0-2-1

Jonah Gadjovich scored the lone goal for the Canucks, who dropped to 1-2-0.

Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom got his first pre-season start and turned aside 14 of 15 shots over two periods. Dustin Wolf made seven saves in the third.

Vancouver’s Thatcher Demko went the distance in his first pre-season appearance and stopped 27 shots.

Calgary’s offence generated far more scoring chances than it did in three previous games.

Gaudreau took advantage of a late line-up change which dropped Blake Coleman from the game roster. The vacancy resulted in Gaudreau shifting to a line alongside Elias Lindholm and Tkachuk.

Gaudreau scored the game’s first goal at 15:18 completing a slick tic-tac-toe cross-ice passing sequence with Lindholm and Tkachuk. Gaudreau capped it off neatly by firing a shot under the cross bar as Demko lunged across the crease.

Calgary led 2-0 at 3:30 of the second period on Backlund’s second pre-season goal.

The sequence began with a heavy hit by Flames defenceman Nikita Zadorov who lowered the shoulder on Jason Dickinson as he tried to skate the puck out of the Canucks’ end.

While Luke Schenn and Zack MacEwen immediately came to over to defend Dickenson, play continued and Backlund made the most of the open ice by getting the loose puck and firing a shot past Demko.

READ MORE: Ekman-Larsson has 2 points as Canucks down Flames 4-2 in NHL exhibition action

Gadjovich’s deflection two minutes later cut the lead in half, but Tkachuk restored the two-goal cushion 6:54 into the third. He neatly deflected Connor Mackey’s centering pass over Demko’s shoulder. Gaudreau had the second assist.

Just before Tkachuk’s goal, he sent Gaudreau in alone only to be denied by Demko on another scoring chance for the veteran left-winger, who is entering the final season of his six-year contract.

Notes: Emilio Pettersen drew into the lineup when Coleman was removed … The Flames are in Kent, Washington on Saturday to face the expansion Seattle Kraken… The Canucks say defenceman Travis Hamonic isn’t opting out of the NHL season, but he has yet to join the team. General manager Jim Benning said in a statement Friday on Twitter that the 31-year-old “remains at home, dealing with some personal matters” and that the team “continues to support him.”

The Canadian Press

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