Monahan, Bennett score as Flames blank Jets in pre-season play

David Rittich made 20 saves as the Calgary Flames beat the Winnipeg Jets 2-0.

CALGARY — David Rittich posted a shutout for the Calgary Flames in his first full outing of the pre-season.

The heir apparent to be Calgary’s starting goaltender in 2019-20 repelled 20 shots in a 2-0 exhibition win over the visiting Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday.

Mike Smith signing with the Edmonton Oilers in the summer opened the door for the 27-year-old Czech to be Calgary’s No. 1.

"I think I’m ready for the regular season and I’m working hard in practice," Rittich said.

"I feel confident with my state right now. I’m trying to play (the puck) more and more and trying to help guys out a little bit more, like what Smitty did last year."

Sean Monahan and Sam Bennett collected their second goals of the pre-season for the Flames (3-2-1).

Prior to Tuesday, Rittich saw just 12 shots over two halves of pre-season games and gave up one goal.

He got more work from the Jets, who put 10 shots on him in the third period.

"The shots are the shots, but he had a lot of goalie touches and he had communication with his defencemen and he had to fight through some screens," Flames head coach Bill Peters said.

"This guy, he loves the game, he’s a great teammate. Guys love playing in front of him. He’s got a lot of energy all the time. He’s never down.

"Every day is a good day for Ritter."

Jets goaltender Eric Comrie allowed two goals on 20 shots over two periods. Mikhail Berdin stopped all 13 he faced in the third for Winnipeg (2-2-1).

Calgary had more big names in its lineup — Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, Mark Giordano — than the Jets, who were minus captain Blake Wheeler, forwards Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers and top goaltender Connor Hellebuyck on Tuesday.

"I liked that game an awful lot," Jets head coach Paul Maurice said. "Very, very consistently played. Obviously we’re not moving the puck the way we would with a little more experience back there.

"The guys that were in our lineup trying to survive the big cut, they worked hard. They did a good job."

Jets defenceman Josh Morrissey left the game in the second period and did not return.

"Precautionary," Maurice stated. "He was tightening up and we didn’t want to get to the point where we were worried about him so he got pulled out."

Both teams are trying to ink deals with key restricted free agents before the regular season begins — Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor for Winnipeg and Matthew Tkachuk for Calgary.

Tkachuk’s absence gives Bennett top-six playing time on a line with Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik.

Milan Lucic, acquired in a July trade with Edmonton, filled Tkachuk’s net-front role on the top power-play unit Tuesday.

Lucic and Gaudreau mustered the most shots on net in the game with five apiece.

"I was out with some guys who know how to move the puck and have some great chemistry," Lucic said. "I was able to get my stick on a few, but not able to find the net.

"Today is definitely the best I’ve felt in all of camp and even since I’ve been here in Calgary."

After a scoreless first period, the hosts struck twice in a 33-second span starting with Monahan’s power-play goal at 13:37.

With Lucic providing traffic in front of Comrie, Monahan tipped a Gaudreau pass over the goaltender’s right shoulder.

Bennett shovelled the puck under Comrie’s right pad on a feed from Backlund at 14:10.

Tucker Poolman’s double minor for high-sticking gave Calgary a first-period power play, which the Flames couldn’t cash in for a goal.

Calgary’s power play produced one goal in seven minutes with a man advantage. Winnipeg was scoreless on one chance with a man advantage.

Calgary has pre-season games remaining in San Jose on Thursday and at home Saturday against the Edmonton Oilers.

Winnipeg is at home to the Oilers on Thursday and hosts the Minnesota Wild on Sunday to cap the pre-season.

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