The American Hockey League's top goaltender the past two seasons allowed one goal on seven shots over two periods before stopping nine of 10 in the third and all three he faced in the shootout.
Flames forward Andrew Mangiapane scored the lone shootout goal.
“I think it was a good test, for sure,” Wolf said. "Just to be able to come in there and stay sharp through two periods when I didn’t see a lot of action.
"I just tried to keep myself in it and give my team a chance, and we were able to score one in the shootout. I enjoy shootouts,”
Forwards Connor Zary and Dustin Hunt scored in regulation time for Calgary (2-2-0).
“We had 20 or 30 blocked shots throughout the game,” Wolf said. “When guys are sacrificing their bodies in front of me like that, it makes my job real easy. So, I’m sure it was a thrill for them. It was good to get that (second) goal and come out with the win.”
Ford had a goal and an assist and Jansen Harkins also scored for Winnipeg (2-0-1).
“I think I played with some energy there, thought I was moving my feet well,” Ford said. “I missed a couple open nets, but that just happens sometimes. It’s tough to be on the losing side.”
Zary evened the score 2-2 at 12:56 of the third period when he beat Winnipeg netminder Oskari Salminen from the faceoff circle.
After replacing starter Connor Hellebuyck midway through the second period, Salminen stopped 13 of 14 at the Canada Life Centre. He denied Zary, but was beaten by Mangiapane in the shootout.
Hellebuyck stopped 18 of 19 shots in the first 27 minutes before giving way to Salminen,
Ford has impressed coach Rick Bowness.
“He’s a spunky little guy,” Bowness said. “He’s out there. He’s on the puck and he’s got great confidence with the puck. One of the things you’re watching in practice is, ‘OK, who has got a good release?’ Goal scorers know where to put the puck on the net and he’s got that touch and he’s got a great release.”
Ford was anxious to demonstrate his on-ice prowess.
“I think you want to show your best game and that comes with the coach’s trust,” said Ford, who gave the Jets a 2-1 lead early in the third period. “Coach isn’t going to put you out there if he doesn’t trust you. I just try to play the right way, a good 200-foot game. Everyone is so good out there, so fast. Just need to find little ways to chip in.”
No goals were scored in the second period, but there was drama in the final minute.
Calgary forward Martin Pospisil was slapped with a match penalty for hitting Winnipeg forward Cole Perfetti in the head. Jets defenceman Logan Stanley then went after Pospisil. Perfetti didn't return to the game.
“It was a cheap-shot hit and the referees got it right,” Bowness said. “Good for the referees to take a look at it. It’s a complete head shot, it’s a cheap shot. Simple as that. I’m glad the referees did what they did. Cole will be re-evaluated in the morning.”
There was confusion in the arena about what penalties were assessed and to whom because the referee’s microphone wasn't working.
The Flames outshot Winnipeg 16-3 in the first period and knotted the score 1-1 in the last minute. Hunt slid a backhand into an open net with Hellebuyck down and out after stopping a shot.
Harkins opened the scoring 7:28 into the first period on a give-and-go with Ford, and beat Wolf with a low shot.
NOTES: Calgary named veteran centre Mikael Backlund team captain just hours before the game. He did not travel to Winnipeg to play and neither did forwards Jonathan Huberdeau and Nazem Kadri … Injured Jets forward Nikolaj Ehlers (neck spasms) has yet to suit up after three pre-season games . . . Winnipeg rested veterans Mark Scheifele, Kyle Connor and defenceman Josh Morrissey.
The Jets head to Ottawa to play the Senators while the Flames are at home to the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 27, 2023.
Jim Bender, The Canadian Press