CALGARY — Top Flames prospect Dillon Dube got a chance to play on Calgary’s No. 1 line on Wednesday night and he took full advantage of the opportunity.
The 21-year-old had a goal and an assist to lead the Flames to a 6-4 win over the San Jose Sharks in NHL pre-season action.
Last fall, Dube was the talk of training camp, surprising everyone by making Calgary’s opening night roster right out of junior. While he eventually went down to the American Hockey League where he spent most of the season, it was a great experience that he’s now building on.
“It’s nice to be here and feel a little bit more comfortable, but there’s still a lot in the back of your head that this is a huge tryout,” said Dube, who had five points (one goal, four assists) in 25 NHL games.
With Elias Lindholm sitting out, Dube played on the right side, alongside Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. It didn’t take long to hit the scoresheet. On his third shift, it was his touch-pass that sprung Gaudreau into the Sharks end. The all-star left-winger slid the puck over to Monahan, who buried a wrist shot into the top corner.
“Just building each game,” Dube said. “Obviously, you need to be good every game to stick around, but I’m still trying to get better every game for when the cuts get closer.”
Dube then scored a slick goal himself in the second period, although not with his high-profile linemates. Halfway through a line change, Dube was set up in front by journeyman forward Byron Froese, and on a neat move to his forehand, he tucked the puck behind Antoine Bibeau making it 5-3 for the home side.
“I thought he was good. I thought he was composed,” said Flames coach Bill Peters, while also drawing attention to a couple small details he missed — unable to get a puck out of his zone in one sequence along the boards, then trying to force a pass on a two-on-one that ended up broken up.
“He’s probably a guy at this stage, playing with those guys, who is going to defer and force pucks into them, so that’s something that he’ll learn as he goes and it’s understandable,” Peters said.
Alan Quine, Adam Ruzicka, Derek Ryan and Gaudreau, credited with an empty netter when Tony Sund accidentally knocked the puck into his own net, also scored for Calgary. The Flames improve to 2-1-0 in the pre-season.
Manuel Wiederer had a pair of goals for San Jose. Lean Bergmann and Ivan Chekhovich also scored as the Sharks fell to 0-2-0.
It was Widerer’s first game in seven months after suffering a season-ending knee injury last February, which required surgery.
“Pretty good game for myself for my first game in a while,” said the 22-year-old German. “First period was pretty hard on the lungs, but it got better and better, so I’m pretty happy.”
For Widerer, it’s all about making the Sharks staff take notice because you never know what needs will arise as the season goes on.
“Just get better every day, make a good impression and who knows what’s going to happen,” he said. “It’s all about making that first impression and then building on that and just getting better and better.”
It was a tough night for the two goaltenders. Bibeau and Jon Gillies, both 25, with a combined nine years of AHL experience already, do not figure to be part of their club’s NHL plans for 2019-20.
Bibeau made 17 saves while Gillies was credited with 16 stops.