For a first spin on Scotiabank Saddledome ice, Calgary Flames coach Bob Hartley didn’t mind what he saw in Sunday’s 1-0 win in split-squad action over the Edmonton Oilers.
Hartley didn’t mind what he didn’t see, either.
“I certainly liked the effort,” he said. “I think from Day One, we saw the commitment to conditioning and I love our start. I felt like we could’ve scored three, four goals in the first period then we kept working. It seemed like the Oilers were playing tighter in their zone and there were less chances, but I don’t think we gave very much. I liked what we did in Game One.”
Hartley had to wait to see his team reap the benefits of a strong start, though. Despite firing 14 shots on Oilers starter Viktor Fasth in the opening 20 minutes, the Flames managed to get on the board in the second.
Just seven seconds into Matt Hendricks slashing minor, TJ Brodie corralled a pass from Max Reinhart and ripped a shot over the shoulder of Fasth to put the Flames up 1-0 at 2:06.
“I was trying to get it high and blocker side,” Brodie said. “I don’t think he saw it. We had good net presence there.
“It’s always a good feeling when you see it go in. It’s just something I want to work on this year is shooting more, getting shots through. Watching [Mark Giordano] last year, if he got the puck in the slot it was usually in the net or a good scoring chance. I felt like a lot of the time I passed those up and passed the puck off. Hopefully that will help contribute more offensively and create more chances.”
It was good to see Brodie find the back of the net early in preseason, Hartley admitted.
“I think there’s only TJ in the entire building here that still doesn’t know how good he can be if he starts shooting the puck,” he said. “Hopefully tonight it’s a good little reminder for TJ. This guy can produce lots of offense for us and he can help us a lot on the power play. His mobility, his vision, his shot can certainly be big factors for us.”
After allowing just one shot in the first, Calgary continued to be stingy in their own end in allowing just seven shots on Jonas Hiller in the middle frame. Edmonton’s best chance came with Jesse Joensuu barreling down his off wing in the dying seconds of the period before firing a shot that Hiller shouldered away.
Hiller gave way to Brad Thiessen in the third period. Both goalies made eight saves to preserve the tandem-shutout.
“I don’t complain about not having enough workload,” Hiller said. “We played it pretty well. We played it really solid. I saw a lot of good things for being that early in the season. It was pretty organized. There are things you can do better but it’s definitely a good starting point.
“We didn’t give up too many good scoring chances. That makes it definitely easier to play as a goalie.”
Corban Knight thought he had put the Flames up by two with 1:31 remaining. Garnet Hathaway forced a turnover at the Oilers blue line after launching into Boyd Gordon, leaving the puck for a streaking Knight. On his off-wing, Knight beat Laurent Brossoit but hit the crossbar to keep Edmonton to within one.
But with Brossoit on the bench in favour of the extra attacker, the Oilers couldn’t draw even to split the simultaneous split-squad games after winning in Edmonton 3-1.
Though they outshot the Oilers 14-1, the Flames couldn’t exit the opening period with the lead.
Joe Colborne came close to putting Calgary up midway through the first after backing off the goal line and feeding a crease-mouth pass to Devin Setoguchi, who was denied by Fasth. The closing minute of the period almost yielded results, too, but Sean Monahan couldn’t connect on Ryan Culkin’s feed. Monahan returned the favour to Culkin, who beat Fasth but hit the post.