It’s the type of goal Calgary Flames fans are hoping they’ll see a lot of.
Out on the power play, Matthew Coronato skated into a little open ice and then took a nice feed from Elias Lindholm and ripped the puck into the back of the Pittsburgh Penguins net.
There was no mistake. The sweet release we’ve heard about since the day he was drafted was on full-display. The speed of the puck, the accuracy … it was all there.
But when Flames head coach Ryan Huska was asked about Coronato’s first NHL goal, it was the second or two before the puck found the 20-year-old stick that really stood out.
“He made a smart play on that,” Huska said. “He found the quiet ice on that and got himself open. That’s the mark of a goal-scorer, for sure.”
The Flames have installed Coronato on their first power-play unit despite him being the youngest player on their team and having only one game of NHL experience to his name prior to the start of the season.
It’s easy to see why they’ve given him such a prominent role. His shot is unique and he already seems to have a real sense of where he needs to get on the ice to use it most effectively.
That’s what Coronato did on Saturday night when he opened the scoring for the Flames late in the second period. While the Flames would allow five goals in the final 20 minutes and fall 5-2, making it awkward for Coronato to celebrate his big milestone, there’s no doubt it will be a moment he looks back on proudly.
“It feels good. Lindy made a great play there,” Coronato said. “It’s kind of hard to think about it with the way we came out and played in the third, but like I said, it was a great play by Lindy and it was good to get it.”
In the moment, there was no question Coronato was on cloud-nine after scoring. He had a massive smile on his face and was swarmed by his teammates. Talking about it post-game might have felt a little strange given the end result of the game for Coronato himself, but the rest of the Flames were happy to pump his tires a little.
You only get to score your first NHL goal once, obviously, and they wanted him to cherish it.
“You see a young guy coming in and working hard, it’s nice to see him get rewarded and he’s going to score many goals in this league,” said Jonathan Huberdeau, who scored the Flames’ other goal against the Penguins. “To get the first one is always special and we wanted to make him feel it was special.
“This guy had a tremendous training camp, worked really hard this summer. To get rewarded with his first goal tonight, would have been nice to get the win for him, but he’s been playing really well. Gotta keep going. It’s exciting, obviously, to get your first NHL goal.”
Noah Hanifin played in his 600th NHL game on Saturday evening, which is pretty astonishing when you consider that he’s still only 26-years-old. The Flames defenceman became the first player from the 2015 NHL Draft to pass 600 games. According to Sportsnet Stats, Hanfiin is also the 10th youngest defenceman in NHL history to hit the mark … It seems that Flames head coach Ryan Huska is comfortable mixing-and-matching his lines in the very early days of the season. Andrew Mangiapane remained at right wing on the first line to start on Saturday, with Dillon Dube getting a run on the second line and Matthew Coronato being moved to the third-line alongside Mikael Backlund and Blake Coleman. Nothing wrong with experimenting a bit early in the year and figuring out what works … The Penguins offered their respects to Chris Snow during the first television timeout. Not that anyone needed further proof, but it emphasized how much Snow’s impact went beyond Calgary … As great as Markstrom was in the first period – and he was great – the Flames got a little help from the post, too. The Penguins rang the puck off the iron twice in the opening 20 minutes … Dube hit the post in the second period, though, so the good/bad luck went both ways.
ACROSS THE BOARDS
Sportsnet brought up an interesting stat about Sidney Crosby’s career-long success against the Flames during the broadcast on Saturday night. The broadcast said that Crosby’s averaging 0.68 goals-per-game against the Flames, which is the Penguins’ star’s best rate against any team in the entire NHL … Dennis Gilbert was slotted in on defence for the Flames, with Jorden Oesterle coming out of the lineup … … Nikita Zadorov took an extra little shot at Evgeni Malkin after taking a tripping penalty midway through the first period. Malkin did not appreciate it and responded with a quick chop of his own