CALGARY — Jaden Schwartz scored twice on Wednesday, but his assist is what stood out as the highlight as it helped setup Mark Giordano’s goal in his triumphant return to Calgary.
Jordan Eberle added the shootout winner as the Seattle Kraken won 4-3 over the Calgary Flames in Giordano’s return to the Saddledome.
Seattle selected he 37-year-old defenceman and former Flames captain in July’s expansion draft.
“Just super happy for him,” Schwartz, a former St. Louis Blues forward, said of Giordano. “You could tell he was enjoying that moment and the crowd gave a big salute. He spent so many years here and did a lot for the city and team. You can tell how well he’s respected.”
Giordano opened the scoring three minutes into the game when he jumped up into the rush, took the puck to the net and slipped a backhand through Dan Vladar’s pads.
“Everyone in the building was pretty pumped up. Even their fans were cheering a little bit,” Schwartz added. “Super happy for him. I know it was probably a little weird feeling for him coming back and playing but he did a great job and gave us a lot of momentum early.”
Giordano’s return was acknowledged during the first television timeout of the first period via a short video tribute. Afterwards, Giordano hopped over the boards and waved his stick to the applauding fans, while Flames and Kraken players banged their sticks on the ice.
“I’ve been in this division now for seven years and for the first four years, I played against (Giordano) a lot. Felt like old times going up against him,” said Flames left-winger Milan Lucic. “It was nice to see him in between the anthems and during the anthems, the fans giving him the ‘Gio’ chants, and the quick little Jumbotron presentation, but I think it’ll go up a notch on Dec. 23 when he has his real comeback to Calgary. “
That is the night of the Kraken’s first regular-season visit to Calgary.
Matthew Tkachuk, Michael Stone, and Mikael Backlund all scored Wednesday but the winless Flames fell to 0-2-1 in pre-season play.
The Kraken improve to 2-1-0.
“In terms of chemistry, it’s a work in progress, it’s one step at a time and there’s no fast forward button for that,” said Kraken coach Dave Hakstol. “But we’re making progress and as you go through different battles together even though it’s pre-season, those are important.”
Vladar made 18 saves in his first full game and third appearance for the Flames. He is expected to be Jacob Markstrom’s backup this season.
Philipp Grubauer got the first two periods for the Kraken, stopping 9-of-11 shots. Joey Daccord played the third and overtime, stopping 10-of-11. He also stopped three of four shootout attempts.
Tied 2-2 in the third, Stone’s turnover below the goal line proved costly as Eberle immediately set up Schwartz alone in front and he one-timed a shot behind Vladar at 12:37.
Backlund got the Flames back to even at 17:33 when he collected a loose puck along the boards, moved in, and fired a shot inside the far post.
Calgary dressed its most-experienced lineup yet with all three members of the new No. 1 line of Tkachuk, Elias Lindholm, and Blake Coleman making their pre-season debut.
Coleman, who signed a six-year, US$29.4-million deal as a free agent, got a dangerous chance on the opening shift of the game when he got behind the Kraken defence, took a pass from Tkachuk, and lifted a backhand over the net.
Johnny Gaudreau also made his season debut on a line with Backlund and Andrew Mangiapane. Sean Monahan has been centring that line at practice, but coming back from hip surgery, coach Darryl Sutter has said Monahan won’t get into games until towards the end of the pre-season.
Notes: Giordano ranks second all-time in games played for the Flames (949), behind only Jarome Iginla (1,219). … The Flames and Kraken meet again on Saturday night in Kent, Washington. .
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 29, 2021.
Darren Haynes, The Canadian Press