Earlier in the day, Mark Giordano talked about the competitive atmosphere he expected on the ice against his former team. The last Calgary Flames captain nailed it.
He also hit the back of the net to open the scoring against the team he spent parts of 15 seasons with as an unrestricted free agent signing who earned his way into the ultimate leadership role.
It was an action-packed Pacific Division battle that lived up to the hype, with the Flames outlasting the Kraken 6-4 in their first visit to Climate Pledge Arena.
Giordano was in the middle of the action most of the night.
His fourth goal of the year less than six minutes in came on an accurate wrister to the far side over Jacob Markstrom’s glove.
Nine seconds into the second period, Giordano was instrumental in giving the Kraken their second lead of the game, speeding into the zone and dishing off to Jared McCann, whose rebound was batted in by Calle Jarnkrok to make it 2-1.
“I’m sure there’s that extra competitiveness between friends and guys you’ve known for a long time that’s going to be out there. Hopefully I put myself in some good positions out there,” Giordano told media from both teams over Zoom earlier in the day.
“It’s about playing with so many of those guys over there for a long time and having great relationships. We’re all competitive so we all want to do well against each other. It’ll be fun. It’ll be an exciting game to be a part of for sure for me.”
Speaking of competitive, a pair of Johnny Gaudreau goals kept things even, with both snipes coming from the right flank. Milan Lucic’s eighth of the season gave the Flames their first lead with about five minutes left in the second frame.
After Yanni Gourde tied things up in the third, a crazy late-period sequence saw the Flames’ Andrew Mangiapane give them a 4-3 lead, only to see McCann (from Giordano) tie it up 30 seconds later. Then another 15 seconds after that, Matthew Tkachuk scored the winner on a feed from Gaudreau.
The sequels should be fun.
First regular-season meeting was supposed to happen at Saddledome
The first regular-season meeting between Giordano and the Calgary Flames was supposed to take place on Dec. 23 at the Saddledome, where his former franchise was planning to pay tribute to his years of service. But the Omicron outbreak and extended Christmas break led to the postponement of that meeting.
It was disappointing for Giordano and his family, but that seems to be par for the course lately.
“You’ve got to go day by day in the world we’re living in right now with COVID. Stuff like that’s going to happen,” Giordano said. “I was really looking forward to getting back to the City of Calgary and playing in front of the fans. But, hopefully, that will happen later in the year.
“It’s still pretty cool to play against a lot of familiar faces.”
Giordano was in touch with his former teammates during their battle with the virus, keeping tabs on their health from afar.
“Just worried about how guys were feeling. Obviously, a lot of guys over there have kids and families as well,” Giordano said. “More worried about how they were feeling and how they were coping with it. From what I got from most of the guys over there, the symptoms weren’t bad and they recovered well, so was happy to see that.”
Giordano knows all about quarantining. He had to isolate for 10 days in a Florida hotel with COVID last month. All of that prepared him for the worst and it was unlikely his family would have joined him in Calgary anyway.
“It was going to be pretty simple. Lauren and the kids were thinking about coming. I went through COVID myself there before that and with all the uncertainty around the numbers going up, it was probably going to be low key,” Giordano said.
“Not much changed. At the end of the day, if you let things in today’s world frustrate you and really get to you it’s going to really affect you. I know there will be another opportunity.”
The Calgary Flames and their fans likely look forward to it.