You couldn’t write the script any better. Just three minutes into his return to Calgary, Kraken defenseman Mark Giordano scored a goal that brought fans of both teams to their feet at the Scotiabank Saddledome. The play started with a stretch pass from Cale Fleury to Jared McCann that led the Kraken into the offensive zone. Giordano jumped into the play, received a pass from McCann, and put a backhand shot between the legs of Flames goalie Dan Vladar. “Gio” chants then erupted from the Calgary crowd as Flames fans saluted their former captain of eight years.
That goal was just the beginning of an impressive early effort from the Kraken, who were eager to right the ship after being blown out 6-0 by the Edmonton Oilers the night before. The Kraken added another goal just three minutes later as Jaden Schwartz corralled a rebound from an Adam Larsson point shot to give Seattle a two goal lead 6:01 into the first period.
The Flames would get one back before the end of the period, as the Kraken lost track of a puck that took an odd bounce behind the net. Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk was able to take advantage, sneaking into the area and backhanding the puck into the net.
Seattle’s first forward line of Schwartz, McCann, and Jordan Eberle was buzzing all period long, putting pressure on the Calgary defense every shift. For the first time in their three preseason games, the Kraken’s forecheck emerged as a key factor toward their success. Seattle’s forwards aggressively pursued the puck in the offensive zone and made life difficult for Flames defensemen, a trend that would continue as the game went on. One player who was particularly impressive forechecking in the first period was Ryan Donato. He ventured lower into the offensive zone and got his stick on the opposition’s attempted passes on multiple occasions, something he didn’t do enough last season in San Jose.
In the second period, play settled down a bit as both teams fell into their defensive structures. As the period went on, the Flames started getting the better of the play and eventually broke through to tie the game a little more than halfway through the period. Haydn Fleury had his pocket picked at the offensive blueline, leading to a 2-on-1 rush the other way for Calgary. Walker Duehr hit the post but the rebound popped out to Michael Stone, who put the puck into an open net.
In the third period, things began to get chippy as some bad blood started to brew between the two teams. The animosity began when Blake Coleman caught Jordan Eberle up high with an elbow as he was rounding the net.
Shortly after, Glenn Gawdin delivered a high but clean hit to Jared McCann, heightening tensions and leading to some back-and-forth slashing battles between the two teams. The chippiness would come back to bite the Flames though, as Matthew Tkachuk negated the final 1:20 of a Flames powerplay by taking a roughing penalty for crossing the line during a post-whistle scrum in front of the Seattle net. Jaden Schwartz would score just 14 seconds later on the ensuing 4-on-4 to give the Kraken the lead late in the game. Eberle continued the Kraken’s game-long theme of stellar forechecking, pressuring Flames defenseman Michael Stone into turning the puck over before making a perfect pass to Schwartz for the goal.
Despite allowing a frustrating goal to trail in the third period, the Flames never let up and Mikael Backlund tied the game at 3-3 with 2:27 remaining in the third, beating Joey Daccord with an accurate shot blocker side on a 2-on-1. Backlund’s snipe would hold up as the final goal of regulation, meaning that for the first time ever, the Kraken were headed to overtime.
Overtime was fairly uneventful, without a Grade A chance on either side. Both teams played disciplined puck possession hockey as coaches Hakstol and Sutter successfully kept the chaos that often stems from 3-on-3 play at bay. The Kraken rotated these trios throughout the overtime period:
Scoreless through overtime, the game then went to a shootout. Jared McCann and Matthew Tkachuk each scored on their respective shootout bids, setting up a sudden death third round. Joey Daccord stopped Justin Kirkland, then Jordan Eberle beat Dan Vladar to give the Kraken their first road win and first shootout win.
The Kraken’s more NHL-heavy lineup delivered another strong performance tonight after their 5-3 win over Vancouver on Saturday. It’s a promising result, given that the Flames also dressed a mostly NHL-caliber roster. The Kraken will travel back to Washington to face the Edmonton Oilers in Everett on Friday.