The Flames opened the 2019-20 season with a 5-3 road loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday. Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau and the birthday boy, captain Mark Giordano, supplied the offence while David Rittich made 27 saves.
The Flames were outshot 14-3 in the opening stanza, but out-gunned their Central Division counterparts 27-17 the rest of the way.
"We had some moments 5-on-5, for sure, and the third period was a good example of that," said head coach Bill Peters. "It was a period that we stayed out of the box and were able to get guys moving and skating, and there was a good rhythm to the game."
Special teams were the story of the night, as the teams combined for 44 penalty minutes and 10 powerplay chances. The Flames went 2-for-4; the Avs, 2-for-6.
"You're in the box that much against a team like that, they're going to bite you," Monahan said.
The Flames held an optional noon practice on Friday after landing back home at 2:30 a.m. Eight players took part, including Austin Czarnik, who left Thursday's game briefly (concussion protocol) after being on the receiving end of a dangerous hit late in the second period.
It was a tough night for No. 27, as he took a stick to the face earlier in the game as well, but said he was feeling good, despite the shiner developing over the entire right side of his face.
Peters did not confirm if there will be any lineup changes for tonight.
"We've got some guys on the table and we'll get updates as the day goes along," he said. "We'll have a good skate at 10:30 (Saturday) and we'll go from there."
The Canucks are coming off a 3-2 loss on the road to the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday in their season-opener. Alex Edler and Tanner Pearson had the goals, while Jacob Markstrom made 19 saves in a losing effort. Connor McDavid scored the winning goal with 5:23 to play, splitting the D and going shelf with a highlight-reel tally to sink the visitors.
"He's going to make plays like that," Canucks forward Brandon Sutter told NHL.com. "He comes up the middle all the time, and maybe we were a half step too late on him. We're not going to dwell on it too much. He's a good player, you have to give him credit. I thought tonight we did a really good job on him for the most part."
The Canucks outshot the Oilers 33-22, but were stymied on the powerplay, going 0-for-4 on the night.
Rookie defenceman Quinn Hughes - brother of 2019 first-overall pick Jack - played 23:07, second only to Edler, who topped the charts with 25:40. The seventh pick in the 2018 Draft, Hughes picked up an assist on Pearson's go-ahead goal midway through the third period and now has four helpers in six career games.
The Canucks, who have missed the playoffs in four consecutive seasons, are a much different-looking team this year.
They acquired forward J.T. Miller in a trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning back on Jun. 22, added free-agent defencemen Tyler Myers and Jordie Benn on Jul. 1, and signed former Flame Micheal Ferland to a four-year deal nine days later.
They join a young core that includes Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser and the 2018-19 Calder Trophy winner, Elias Pettersson. Pettersson burst onto the scene last year and quickly established himself as one of the game's top snipers, recording 28 goals and 66 points in 71 games last year.
The Flames won two of the five meetings last year, but earned six of a possible 10 points thanks to a pair of overtime defeats. Mark Giordano led the Flames in head-to-head scoring, notching a pair of three-point games for a total of six (2G, 4A) in the five-game set. Johnny Gaudreau andMatthew Tkachukwere not far behind with five points each.
This is the first of four meetings this year. The teams renew acquaintances on Dec. 29 in Calgary, before finishing off the season series with a pair of dates on the west coast, Feb. 20 and Mar. 27.
THIS, THAT & THE OTHER
THIS:Johnny Gaudreau (134G, 255A, 389PTS) passed Joe Mullen for the 14th-most points in Flames franchise history with a goal and an assist in the season opener. ... THAT: Gaudreau's two-point effort was the 100th multi-point game of his career, and in doing so, he becomes the 11th player in franchise history to achieve that feat as a Flame. 'Johnny Hockey' is one of only 10 players to hit the century mark in multi-point games since the start of the 2014-15 season. ... THE OTHER:Mark Giordano, who scored his first goal of the season in Thursday's lid-lifter, is now in his 14th NHL campaign, passing the great Al MacInnis in tenure. Jarome Iginla leads the way in franchise lore, suiting up for 16 seasons in Calgary.
In case there was any doubt - no, he isn't slowing down. At all. The reigning Norris winner picked up where he left off with another immaculate outing in Thursday's opener. 'Gio' finished with a goal, four shots, four blocked shots, two hits, and a game-high 24:05 in ice time.
Canucks - Tanner Pearson
Pearson was Vancouver's best player in Edmonton, recording his first goal of the season and - get this - a game-high 11 shots in just over 16 minutes of ice time.