Sorting by


Zadorov hat trick lifts Calgary Flames to season-ending win over San Jose Sharks

CALGARY — A disappointing season for the Calgary Flames concluded in an unexpected way on Wednesday.

Led by defenceman Nikita Zadorov’s first career hat trick, Calgary won 3-1 over the San Jose Sharks.

“Definitely was hard to find emotions to play that game, for sure,” Zadorov said. “It’s normal when you miss the playoffs, the last game, it sucks, it wasn’t what we were expecting.”

His first multi-goal NHL game was capped off with a minute to go when his long shot from deep in his own end found the empty Sharks net, prompting hats to rain down onto the ice from the home crowd.

“I blacked out, not gonna lie,” said Zadorov with a chuckle. “(Rasmus Andersson) told me on the bench just go for it, so first time I hit the D-man and the second time just closed my eyes, feel where the net was, got a lucky bounce. It was nice fade six-iron there. It worked.”

Zadorov finishes the year with 14 goals, doubling his previous career high of seven.

“The Russian Rocket,” said Flames coach Darryl Sutter, cracking a rare smile. “Saved it for the last game, should have done it in October.”

Zadorov laughed when told what the coach called him.

“Wasn’t that Pavel Bure’s nickname? I’m far away from that,” Zadorov said.

Calgary (38-27-17) finishes fifth in the Pacific with 93 points, a year after winning the division with 111 points. The Flames have missed the playoffs in nine of their last 14 seasons and made the post-season in consecutive years just once over that span.

Noah Gregor scored for San Jose (22-43-16), who will miss the playoffs for a fourth straight season. 

Making 23 stops for the Flames to win his NHL debut was 21-year-old Dustin Wolf, the Flames seventh-round pick in 2019. 

“It’s rewarding. You put the work in each and every day and you dream about that as a kid,” said Wolf. “To get that first game and first win, it feels really awesome and obviously leaves you wanting more.”

Wolf — who hails from Gilroy, Cali., where he grew up a San Jose Sharks fan — was recalled for the game from the American Hockey League’s Calgary Wranglers where he leads the league with 41 wins.

Solid when called upon, one of Wolf’s biggest stops came with five minutes remaining when he thwarted Logan Couture from 15 feet out after the Sharks’ leading scorer was set up in the slot.

“Maybe a little shaky in the first period and then settled down and not a lot of shots, so just tried to stay into it,” Wolf said of his performance. “A good third period, I was happy with that.”

At the other end, Kaapo Kahkonen stopped 46 shots for San Jose. His record falls to 9-20-7.

“We knew they were going to throw some pucks to the net and I felt good,” said the Finnish goaltender. “I was able to deflect most of them in the corner or swallow them.”

Zadorov gave the Flames the lead 4:01 into the third when he took a pass from his defence partner, MacKenzie Weegar, and snapped a shot from the blue line that found the top corner.

Providing a partial screen on the play was right-winger Matt Coronato, who was also making his NHL debut.

The 20-year-old selected in the first round of the 2021 NHL draft, signed with Calgary on March 26 after his college season with Harvard ended.

Coronato played on a line with fellow rookie Jakob Pelletier and Nazem Kadri, and showed his offensive instincts throughout the night, generating a few scoring chances and finishing with four shots on goal.

“It was great, it was a lot of fun,” said Coronato. “The guys made it fun, playing with Pelts and Naz was awesome. It’s hard to put into words, but I definitely had a great time out there.”

One chance came early in the second when he stepped out of the penalty box and collected a loose puck at centre. He broke in off the left wing, but Kahkonen made a pad stop.

“(Coronato’s) got lots of upside, that young man. He’s got really good hands, a good shooter, which is something that not everybody has,” said Sutter. “It’s good to see, there’s lots of spunk in his game. Good first outing for that kid.”

Down 1-0 after 20 minutes, Calgary tied the game at 13:36 of the second when Mikael Backlund’s centring pass was deflected by Andrew Mangiapane right to Zadorov, who quickly snapped a shot inside the near post.

“I know they were really disappointed probably the way they were bumped out of the playoffs. I liked their game,” Sharks coach David Quinn said of the Flames. 

“They were really on their toes. I thought we had spurts where we were pretty competitive and did some good things but just thought they were the better team tonight.”


After finishing tied for second in league scoring last year with 115 points (30 goals, 85 assists) while a member of the Florida Panthers, Jonathan Huberdeau ends the season with just 55 points (15 goals, 40 assists). Free agent signing Nazem Kadri, also in his first season with the Flames after winning the Stanley Cup with Colorado last season, saw his production fall from 87 points (28 goals, 59 assists) last year to 56 points (24 goals, 32 assists). 


Sharks: Wrap up the season Thursday in Edmonton.

Flames: Are done until next season

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 12, 2023. 

Darren Haynes, The Canadian Press