VANCOUVER — Ben Jones knows he has work to do to crack the Calgary Flames' lineup.
He also knows he helped his cause Sunday, chipping in with a goal and an assist as the Flames opened their pre-season campaign with a 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks in a split-squad game.
“I’m really just trying to make a name for myself, trying to put my foot in the door here and kind of see what happens," Jones said. "And obviously (I'm) happy with the result tonight. Making a win is kind of the most important thing and we came up with that tonight.”
Mitch McLain also put up a goal and an assist for Calgary (2-0-0) in regulation and Michael Stone scored the game winner with a power-play tally in overtime.
Both of Vancouver’s goals came in the third period, with Vasily Podkolzin and Conor Garland finding the back of the net.
Dustin Wolf played all three periods for the Flames, stopping 26-of-28 shots.
“He made some major, big saves and at crucial times. He looks sharp," said assistant coach Kirk Muller, who was behind Calgary's bench Sunday. "He played well, he made the plays at the right time. So very impressed with his performance tonight.”
Spencer Martin stopped 23-of-25 shots for the Canucks (0-1-1) before being replaced by Arturs Silovs to start the third period. Silovs made 20 saves.
The Flames and Canucks also faced off in a split-squad matchup in Calgary on Sunday, with Jonathan Huberdeau scoring his first goal for the Flames en route to a 4-0 Calgary win.
Back in Vancouver, a man advantage helped the Flames seal the victory.
Podkolzin was called for tripping Nick DeSimone with 1:38 to go in overtime and Calgary was quick to convert on the power play, with Stone sending a sharp-angle shot past Silovs to clinch the win 3:39 into the extra frame.
The Canucks levelled the score with 91 seconds left in the third after pulling Silovs in favour of an extra attacker.
Elias Pettersson placed a pass on Garland's tape and, stationed at the side of the crease, the winger blasted a shot at Wolf.
The goalie stopped the initial attempt but Garland unleashed another rocket, this time sending a puck over Wolf's shoulder to make it 2-2.
"We never quit," said Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau. "It would have been pretty easy. They had seven power plays, I think, but we kept pushing through, pushing through especially when we lost a player. … I thought the never quit thing is an important thing with us. It was last year. I think it will be this year.”
Vancouver finally got a shot past Wolf 8:07 into the third.
Podkolzin collected a pass from Tyler Myers and bulldozed his way to the front of the net, then muscled a shot past Wolf cutting the Canucks' deficit to 2-1.
The Canucks opted to swap goalies to start the third, replacing Martins with Silovs.
The Latvian netminder was forced to make a big stop 36 seconds into the period, diving backwards to sweep a shot by Stone out of the crease.
Calgary took a 2-0 lead into the second intermission thanks to a well-used rebound.
Martin made a pad stop on McLain's sharp-angle shot but the puck popped out to Jones, who sent a shot in off the goalie's right skate at the 18:41 mark.
Jones, 23, made his NHL debut for Vegas last season. He appeared in two games for the Golden Knights before signing with the Flames as a free agent in July.
Vancouver spent seven minutes short-handed in the second, including a four-minute stretch midway through the period after Arseneau cross-checked Milan Lucic, then tried to drop the gloves with the Flames bruiser.
Arseneau was handed a double minor, which his teammates managed to kill off.
Calgary went 1-for-8 on the power play while Vancouver was 0-for-7.
“Hockey's back, everyone's getting competitive, kind of finding that competitive edge again," Jones said of the chippy nature of the game. "Everyone wants it and everyone's kind of here to stay, and obviously camp’s where guys make names for themselves and try and stick. And I think that's kind of what was going on today.”
After spending two minutes in the box for high-sticking, McLain opened the scoring for Calgary 12:40 into the first period.
The 29-year-old centre streaked down the ice and deftly moved the puck from his forehand to his backhand before flipping a puck in past Martin from in tight.
McLain spent most of last season playing for the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League.
Calgary will continue pre-season play Tuesday when it hosts Seattle. The Kraken will face the Canucks in Vancouver on Thursday.
NOTES: Calgary's Nicolas Meloche sent winger Ilya Mikheyev into the sideboards about three minutes into the second. The Russian winger went directly to the dressing room and did not return. Boudreau did not have an update on Mikheyev after the game. … Vancouver's Arseneau and Adam Klapka dropped the gloves at centre ice midway through the third period. Each player got in some heavy blows before they were separated by officials and each handed a five-minute major for fighting.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 25, 2022.
Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press