VANCOUVER – Jared McCann scored on the power play in the third period and Jacob Markstrom stopped 31 shots Monday as the Vancouver Canucks shut out the Arizona Coyotes 1-0 in pre-season action.
Making a strong bid to stick with the Canucks out of training camp, McCann took the puck off the wall and fired a low shot past Arizona goalie Mike Smith at 8:34 for his first goal and third point of the exhibition schedule.
McCann and fellow 2014 first-round pick Jake Virtanen were given top-six forward roles for the game as the Canucks get long looks at both players with the regular season set to begin Oct. 7 against the Calgary Flames. A broken foot suffered by veteran winger Chris Higgins in Vancouver’s first exhibition game means there’s at least one spot open up front.
Virtanen skated alongside Daniel and Henrik Sedin on the Canucks’ first line, while McCann started on the wing with Brandon Sutter and Alexandre Burrows before dropping down the lineup before moving back to his natural centre position.
Scoreless through 40 minutes, the Coyotes had a power play to start the third and Markstrom – tabbed to be Vancouver’s No. 2 goalie behind Ryan Miller after fan favourite Eddie Lack was traded in the off-season – had to be sharp on Tobias Rieder’s quick shot from the slot.
Canucks forward Adam Cracknell, who scored in overtime in Vancouver’s first pre-season game, then saw his shot on a 2-on-1 stopped by Smith five minutes into the final period before McCann struck on the power play.
Virtanen and McCann are both 19 years old, meaning that they are too young to play in the AHL and would have to be returned to their junior teams if they don’t make the Canucks’ roster.
Virtanen had the bigger impact early, delivering a hit on his first shift before taking a high-sticking penalty that Vancouver killed off.
Markstrom made a nice pad stop on a deflection by Coyotes forward Shane Doan midway through the first, while Canucks defenceman Dan Hamhuis had a good chance at the other end.
Coyotes forward Martin Hanzel moved in on a breakaway early in the second, but Markstrom made a nice glove save, and Smith snagged a Sven Baertschi effort on a 2-on-1 at the other end five minutes later.
Notes: Smith finished with 23 saves… The Canucks visit the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday, while the Coyotes travel to Edmonton to take on the Oilers… Vancouver assigned six players to the AHL’s Utica Comets earlier Monday, including forwards Cole Cassels and Nicklas Jensen.