It was a preseason game, and the first one at that, so of course there was disorganization, sloppiness, and those perfunctory fights that double as cries of “look at me, Coach.” Despite all that, the Vancouver Canucks can feel pleased with the first game of the 2011-12 NHL campaign, and with the debut of veteran forward Marco Sturm. The German winger had a goal and an assist in Vancouver’s 4-3 victory over the Calgary Flames at Rogers Arena Tuesday.
“It’s a new city, new team, new rink, but I was excited to be out there and I think I showed it,” Sturm said.
The game changed in the third period when the line of Jordan Schroeder, Nicklas Jensen and Steve Pinizzotto struck for two goals.
Schroeder, Vancouver’s first-round pick in the 2009 draft, got the tying goal by finishing a one-timer just 75 seconds into the period. Jensen won a puck battle in the defensive zone, which allowed Pinizzotto to streak up ice and create a scoring chance. All three forwards had a major hand in this one.
Jensen, Vancouver’s first-round pick in the 2011 draft, scored the winner with a bad angle shot, but after a smart play behind the net to free up some space and a shooting lane. All three players finished with two-point games.
“They sort of turned the game around for us,” head coach Alain Vigneault said of the line.
The coach also praised goaltender Eddie Lack, who stopped all 12 shots he faced after coming in for starter Cory Schneider at the game’s midpoint.
Schneider, meanwhile, struggled. He allowed three goals on 20 shots, including an ugly tally to Niklas Hagman in the second period.
The Finnish winger had a rough season in Calgary last year, but got off to a fine start with two goals Tuesday. Mikael Backlund also scored, with first-round pick Sven Baertschi assisting.
Goaltender Leland Irving played the whole game for the visitors, and stopped 18 of 22 shots. The Canucks had 11 tries on goal in the third period, after recording the same number through the first 40 minutes.
Defenceman Chris Tanev also scored for the home team, after jumping into a short-handed rush. Tanev did not score in 34 NHL games last season.