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PIVOTAL MOMENT

Young centre Jankowski fired up to finally make his regular-season Scotiabank Saddledome debut

by ARI YANOVER @NHLFlames / calgaryflames.com

Five years after the Flames selected him 21st overall, Mark Jankowski is set to make his Scotiabank Saddledome debut.

"I'm just really excited to finally play at the 'Dome here," Jankowski said following Friday morning's skate. "Ever since I was drafted by the Flames I've wanted to play in front of these fans and obviously they're some of the best fans in the league, so just playing in front of the C of Red, I'm just really excited."

Tonight, the Flames host the Dallas Stars (7 p.m. MT, TV: SN360, Radio: Sportsnet960 The FAN) to kick off a seven-game homestand.

"He looks like an NHL player to me," coach Glen Gulutzan said, assessing the rookie's performance over his first two games since being called up from the Stockton Heat.

"He's been able to hold pucks, he's gone to the net, and he's played good defensively.

"Very few guys step up to home plate and hit a home run their first at bat. But I like what I see. There's certainly NHL subtleties. He's an NHL player. And now he's got to get comfortable in an everyday league."

Through two games Jankowski has a 59.52% Corsi-for, according to Corsica.hockey. 

"I felt pretty good," Jankowski said. "I think our line was creating some offence. We got some o-zone time and just, we're hard on pucks, and I think all of us can do that, we can get hard on their D-men and take pucks hard to the net and get pucks into the net. So I think we just have to keep building."

Kris Versteeg will be the newest addition to Jankowski's line, joining him and Sam Bennett. Jankowski had a lot of praise for the veteran winger.

"His hands are amazing," Jankowski said. "His vision, and he can really make plays out there. We connected for a goal in the pre-season there, so hopefully we can keep that going."

Said Gulutzan: "I think Kris has got to come in there and give them some skill, but he also has to come in there and give them some of that veteran savvy and make some plays."

Versteeg said the club's third and fourth lines have to start scoring.

"We've got to help the top lines contribute," he said.

Gulutzan agreed, noting that he believes everyone on the team can still be better.

"We're 1-3 at home," Gulutzan said. "We've got a seven-game home stand here, and I think there's more. I think that everything we need is in that locker room, and I think there's guys there that can do more in more situations.

"We have to establish ourselves at home, starting tonight. So forget seven games, forget the third period. Tonight, let's start with the first shift and how what our mentality is going to be at home. We're not trying to please the fans with sauce passes or anything like that, just getting down to work here. We need to dig in at home, and this should be a building that when teams show up here it's the wrong place at the wrong time."

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