CALGARY, Alberta — The evening was earmarked for Mark Giordano to enjoy.

Turns out, it wasn’t an all-night celebration.

In Giordano’s return to the only NHL city he’s called home before moving to the Pacific Northwest, the Calgary Flames played the part of party-poopers, turning the gala into their own winning occasion with a 2-1 win over the captain and the Seattle Kraken.

It was Gio’s first time back to play the Flames since being left unprotected by the Calgary club in the expansion draft, making him available to be selected by the Kraken.

“It means a lot,” said the 38-year-old Giordano, a steadfast defenseman for 16 NHL seasons. “I came in here a pretty young guy not knowing too much about what the NHL was all about and the city, obviously. I felt like every night that I played I put in as much as I can into the game, and I think the fans here respect that and really showed me support throughout my career. It’s been nothing but very supportive and people being great to you in the city of Calgary …

“Pretty special.”

First, there was the obligatory pregame video montage for the Flames’ Norris Trophy winner.

Then came a minute-long standing ovation for the longtime leader in Calgary and chants of “Gio, Gio, Gio” emanating from an appreciative crowd at the COVID-restricted half-full Scotiabank Saddledome.


But after the pregame party, it was all business.

Matthew Tkachuk scored just three minutes in, when both Vince Dunn and Jared McCann lost a battle behind the net, allowing Elias Lindholm to feed the puck out front for the Flames pesky winger to walk in uncontested and pick the corner on Kraken goaltender Philipp Grubauer.

Then it was Jacob Markstrom’s time to get beat to the top corner, when Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin surprisingly sent a Kraken dump-in from behind the red-line out front of his own net, where the only skater was Calle Jarnkrok — and he converted.

Both teams had glorious chances to break the deadlock early in the second period, with the Kraken’s coming when all-star Jordan Eberle was robbed on a two-on-on by Markstrom, who slid across the crease and double-stacked his pads for the old-school save.

It stayed 1-1 through two and then got amped up right at the start of the third frame, so the teams went to work to try and solve the score — and the sharp goaltenders.

But both stood tall, and when Grubauer wasn’t available to make a save, Adam Larsson was for the Kraken, having a golden Gaudreau opportunity on a pretty passing play from the Flames hit him in the shin while getting down low in the crease beside his over-committed goalie.

“Obviously a huge bailout and save from him,” Grubauer said. “Yeah … sometimes you’ve got to scramble and get something in there and you need the d-man’s help. That worked out there.”


Grubauer and the Kraken couldn’t work it out against the hosts forever, however.

A few minutes later, Elias Lindholm’s spin-around shot low through traffic evaded Grubauer, giving the hosts the 2-1 advantage.

“I thought we were competitive right from the word, ‘Go’,” Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol said. “They’re a heavy team, and they create possession and put pucks to the net. It’s not the outside shots that are the danger, it’s the second pucks that come back inside — like they’re second goal, that game-winning goal.”

Despite a few more vibrant chances, the Flames couldn’t stick another behind the Kraken ‘tender.

At the other end, the home-side defense and Markstrom turned back any tying attempts. The Flames goalie made 36 saves, while Grubauer stopped 21 pucks — the best to keep the Kraken in the game near the end of the first on a toe-save sliding across to take away Andrew Mangiapane’s 2-on-1 shot.

But close wasn’t good enough again for the Seattle squad.


“We came here to win a hockey game, and we didn’t do that,” Hakstol said. “But while the end result wasn’t what we wanted, competitively, there were some good pieces in our game.”

No … it wasn’t the end to the night Giordano was looking for, with the Flames — now 29-13-6 — earning their ninth-straight victory and the Kraken — now 16-31-4 — falling for the third consecutive game.

But it didn’t take away from Gio’s homecoming.

“Pretty special for me to play in front of the fans here again,” Giordano said. “It’s always going to feel weird coming in on the other side after being here for so long.”