Matt Coronato scored a hat trick and added an assist as the Calgary Flames opened pre-season play with a 10-0 thumping of the visiting Vancouver Canucks on Sunday.
Coronato — the Flames’ first-round pick (13th overall) in the 2021 draft — made his NHL debut in Calgary’s final game of the season last year.
The 20-year-old turned pro and signed his entry-level contract just weeks earlier following the completion of his second NCAA season at Harvard.
Jonathan Huberdeau added a pair of goals while Nazem Kadri, Jordan Oesterle, Noah Hanifin, Connor Zary and Ben Jones also scored for Calgary.
Hear from Rick Tocchet following tonight’s pre-season game in Calgary. pic.twitter.com/0tKmAUn9ls— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) September 25, 2023
In Ryan Huska’s first game as head coach, replacing the fired Darryl Sutter, the Flames dressed a far more veteran-laden lineup than the visitors.
Getting the start in goal for Calgary and playing two periods, Jacob Markstrom was perfect stopping all 20 shots faced including two terrific saves in the second period.
He made a glove snag off a dangerous chance by Nils Aman and a sprawling pad stop to deny Jack Studnicka at the side of the net.
Huberdeau, 30, is entering the first of an eight-year, US$84 million contract extension he signed in 2022 shortly after he was acquired in a trade with Florida that sent Matthew Tkachuk to the Panthers.
Huberdeau’s first year in Calgary was a disappointment as his point total plummeted to 55 (15 goals, 40 assists) after a career-high 115 points (30 goals, 85 assists) in 2021-22, when he finished tied for second in league scoring.
Both goals for Huberdeau — who didn’t have single a multi-goal game last season — came as a result of nice plays.
At 8:43 of the first, Huberdeau made it 3-0 when he got the puck in the slot, toe-dragged around defenceman Noah Juulsen, who went spinning to the ice, then whipped a shot into the top corner.
His second, making it 5-0 at 9:39 of the second period, came off a beautiful cross-ice setup from Kadri on a 2-on-1.
Markstorm is another player looking to have a bounceback season as his save percentage fell to .892 last season, after being a Vezina Trophy finalist with a .922 mark the previous year.
Arturs Silovs got the start in net for Vancouver. The Canucks’ No. 1 American Hockey League goaltender last season gave up seven goals on 18 shots before being replaced halfway through the second period by Zach Sawchenko.
Sawchenko didn’t face a shot in his eight-plus minutes of action in the second. He didn’t fare much better in the third period, however, giving up two goals on the first three shots of the frame.
Zary and Jones’s markers made it 9-0 less than five minutes into third, which prompted chants of, “We want 10,” from the home crowd the rest of the evening.
The crowd got their wish at 12:23 when Coronato made it 10-0, zipping a perfect shot past Sawchenko on the power play.
Flames defenceman Dennis Gilbert left the game and did not return when he was sent heavily into the end boards on a hit by Nils Hoglander. He had to be helped off the ice.
The 10 goals on 26 shots was a sharp departure from how the Flames fared offensively last season in missing the playoffs. While Calgary finished second in the league in shots on goal under Sutter, it only ranked 19th in goals.
Canucks: Travel to Edmonton to take on the Oilers on Wednesday.
Flames: Play a split-squad doubleheader against Seattle on Monday with a game in each city.
Darren Haynes, The Canadian Press