Calgary 3 Vancouver 1
VANCOUVER — Leland Irving made 29 saves for his first NHL win as the Calgary Flames beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-1 on Friday night.
Curtis Glencross, Mikael Backlund and Olli Jokinen, with an empty-net goal in the final minute, scored for Calgary.
Irving preserved the win as he made a diving save off Daniel Sedin before Jokinen scored his insurance marker.
Irving, a 23-year-old Swan Hills, Alta., native, made only his second-ever NHL start after an earlier call-up this month from Abbotsford of the American Hockey League.
The Flames (17-15-4) posted their third straight win, while the Canucks (21-12-2) lost for only the fourth time in their past 16 games.
Dan Hamhuis scored for the Canucks. All goals came in the third period.
Calgary outshot the Canucks 31-30 on the night after enjoying a decisive edge in the first two period. The Canucks outshot the Flames 17-7 in the third.
The clubs had combined for 12 goals in their two previous meetings this season, but nobody could score in the first 40 minutes.
The game got off to an ornery start as Vancouver’s Kevin Bieksa fought Calgary’s Tom Kostopoulos three seconds after the opening face-off. Kostopoulos suffered a cut near his left eye as Bieksa landed his first punch. They renewed their hositlities after fighting each other last January.
The fight didn’t spark the Canucks though. Calgary dominated the early play and Vancouver did not get a shot until Chris Higgins put a soft backhand on net with just under six minutes gone. Kostopoulos went to the dressing room for repairs and did not come back until about the 14-minute mark.
The Flames outshot the Canucks 13-6 in the first period, but could not beat Roberto Luongo. He foiled Paul Byron on a breakaway in the first four minutes and stopped Jokinen and Glencross on back-to-back shots less than two minutes later.
In the second period, Luongo stopped Lee Stempniak on a breakaway after Vancouver’s fourth line had kept the puck in the Calgary zone for a long stretch and was caught on a line change.
The Flames enjoyed most of the chances in the second period, too, but Luongo kept the door shut.
Irving came up big in the final minute of the middle frame as he caught a hard Mason Raymond shot from the left wing.
Glencross finally opened the scoring 2:36 into the third period as he dashed into the slot and one-timed Jarome Iginla’s pass from corner. Iginla won a battle for the puck with Hamhuis and then slid the puck behind Bieksa as he tried to block the pass.
Irving was forced to make several tough saves through most of the third as the Canucks picked up the pace. Backlund put the Flames ahead 2-0 at 14:08 after scooping up a blocked puck and beating Luongo before he could get set.
Hamhuis pulled Vancouver within a goal at 16:59 as he clanked in a wrist shot off the post before Jokinen’s empty-netter sealed the Calgary win.