SEATTLE (AP)Matthew Tkachuk scored the go-ahead goal with 2:26 left and had two assists as the Calgary Flames beat the Seattle Kraken 6-4 on Thursday night in their first game in nearly three weeks.
Johnny Gaudreau added two goals and assisted on the game-winner to give the Flames their first victory since Dec. 3. Milan Lucic, Andrew Mangiapane and Noah Hanifin also scored for Calgary, which handed Seattle its fourth straight loss and second in two nights.
”Even with everything going on, there’s no reason why we couldn’t come in here and beat a team that played last night,” Tkachuk said.
It was the Flames’ first game since Dec. 11 due to a COVID-19 outbreak. Twenty members of the team and coach Darryl Sutter were among 33 Calgary personnel who tested positive for the coronavirus during the club’s 19 days off.
The rust showed, as Sutter noted: ”I’m not making an excuse here, but if you had 19 days off you wouldn’t be very good out there.”
The Flames were a little chippy, with play stopping several times to break up scrums, and weren’t as tight on defense as goaltender Jacob Markstrom might have hoped as the teams combined for four goals in the final four minutes.
”I think that we thought it would be a lot better, but we found a way to win,” Tkachuk said. ”And that was the most important thing, getting back in the win column here. It was ugly, especially late – that’s not the type of team we are, giving up four – but we found a way. I guess that’s all that matters now.”
Former Flames captain Mark Giordano had a goal and two assists in his first game against his old team, and Calle Jarnkrok added a goal and two assists for the Kraken. Yanni Gourde and Jared McCann also scored for Seattle, which got two assists from Colin Blackwell.
Giordano walked away disappointed after the Kraken lost for the seventh time in eight games.
”At the end of the day, you can’t keep looking at silver linings,” the captain said. ”It’s 32 or 31 games into the season. Up to a certain point we’re doing the right things. We have to find ways to win games. I don’t think anyone’s overwhelmed us in this league. We have to turn it the other way where we’re finding ways to win games instead of being on the other end of it.”
Giordano opened the scoring at 5:48 with a slap shot from the high slot off a pass from Blackwell after Jarnkrok chased down the puck behind the net. The Kraken captain, selected in the expansion draft this summer, played 15 years for the Flames, serving as captain since 2013.
The Flames answered four minutes later when Nikita Zadorov drew Kraken goaltender Chris Driedger out of the net with a fake, then passed to Gaudreau in the right faceoff circle for a one-timer to tie it at 1.
Giordano stuck it to his old team again nine seconds into the second period when he gathered in the opening faceoff, skated deep into Calgary’s end and found McCann in the slot. McCann misfired, but Jarnkrok put the rebound past Jacob Markstrom for a 2-1 lead.
Gaudreau tied it at 2 with his 12th goal of the season, a power-play rocket that beat Driedger glove side, bounced off the right post, then ricocheted off the left and into the net.
Gourde chased Blackwell’s pass to the crease and pushed it past Markstrom to tie it at 3 with 4:39 gone in the third.
Mangiapane and McCann exchanged goals late in the period before Tkachuk’s game-winner at 17:34. Hanifin, who also had an assist, added an empty-netter.
MORE ON GIO
Giordano became the 36th expansion player to score in his first game against his former team. He played 949 games for the Flames, second-most in team history.
His former teammates gave him begrudging love for the performance.
”Honestly, you know, he’s a great captain, loved playing with him here,” Gaudreau said. ”I was happy for him, but at the end of the day it’s another game and he’s on another team.”
NOTES: Seattle forward Jaden Schwartz is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Kole Lind was added to the lineup from the taxi squad. … Seattle’s goal nine seconds into the second was the team’s quickest to start a period. . Calgary recalled G Dustin Wolf, who used to play in nearby Everett, on an emergency basis from Stockton of the AHL. The team placed forward Brett Ritchie in COVID-19 protocol and assigned C Byron Froese to the taxi squad. . Seattle D Jamie Oleksiak appeared in his 400th career game.
Flames: Calgary is at Chicago on Sunday.
Kraken: Seattle hosts Vancouver on Saturday.
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports