CALGARY — Matt Coronato continues to be the talk of the Calgary Flames training camp.
The 20-year-old right-winger impressed once again on Monday, scoring the go-ahead goal in the third period to go along with a pair of primary assists as he led Calgary to a 5-4 victory over the Winnipeg Jets in NHL pre-season action.
“Every day I'm just getting more and more comfortable, and I feel good,” said Coronato, Calgary's first-round pick — 13th overall — in 2021. "Just keep getting better and better every day. I think the work part of it is a huge part.”
The game-winner came 1:23 into the third period as Coronato showed off his lethal shot on the power play. After taking a cross-ice pass from Mikael Backlund, he took a stride and snapped a shot top corner over Connor Hellebuyck's glove.
“His shot's up there with the top guys in this league, for sure. The way he releases, how quick it is,” said Dillon Dube, who also scored. “But those little plays that he's making, it's hard to do, and it shows why he's an elite-level player.”
Coronato leads the Flames in both goals (4) and points (7) and has looked like an impact player in his five pre-season games.
“I felt today he played with a lot of jump,” said Backlund, who also had a goal. “He was working really hard, he was hunting pucks, winning battles, he has a lethal shot — that's a really nice goal. The assists he had was all like hard work, he was competing.”
Coronato signed with the club last spring after his second season of NCAA with Harvard came to a conclusion. He was with Calgary for the final couple weeks of the season, making his NHL debut in the final game of the regular season.
In camp, while the offensive numbers are alluring, it's his work ethic that's opened eyes.
“If you watch him away from pucks when he doesn't have it, how hard he works to try to get it back. That's why he's had success. He's been like a dog on a bone and he is hunting things hard,” said Flames coach Ryan Huska.
Coronato's not a big man either, standing just 5-foot-10.
“A lot of it getting to this level is the battle and the strength and he's a young kid playing against men and he fits in really well,” Dube added.
Elias Lindholm and Adam Ruzicka also scored for Calgary (4-1-1).
It was the Flames final home game of the pre-season. Next time they're back at the Saddledome will be Oct. 11 when the Jets are the opposition again, this time for both team's regular-season opener.
David Gustafsson scored a pair to lead the offence for Winnipeg (2-2-1), while Ville Heinola and Dominic Toninato added singles.
It was also the first 60-minute game for Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom, who had 24 stops. He was perfect on 20 shots faced over two periods in his first appearance.
Hellebuyck, who was peppered with 46 shots, was also playing his first full game.
Calgary was trailing 3-1 in the second when three goals in a 2:24 span gave the Flames their first lead.
Ruzicka got the barrage going at 11:57, neatly completing a tick-tack-toe passing sequence with Yegor Sharangovich and Coronato by scoring on a nice move to his backhand.
After Dube knocked in a Jordan Oesterle rebound just over a minute later to tie it, Backlund gave Calgary its first lead burying a Coronato rebound.
That lead was short-lived, however, as just 25 seconds later Gustafsson sniped his second of the period, whipping a shot over Markstrom's glove from 40 feet out.
Gustafsson, who failed to score in 46 games with the Jets last season and has just one goal in 74 NHL games, has netted three in the pre-season.
Both of his goals on Monday were set up by Parker Ford, the skilled 5-foot-9 winger who leads the Jets in pre-season scoring with five points (1 goal, 4 assists). Ford, who signed last spring after completing his fourth year at Providence College (NCAA), has been one of the better stories in camp.
MOMENT OF SILENCE
A moment of silence was held before the game for Flames assistant GM Chris Snow, who died Saturday at the age of 42. Diagnosed four years ago with ALS, Snow was hospitalized Tuesday after he went into cardiac arrest following a catastrophic brain injury.
REVAMPED TOP NINE
New Flames head coach Ryan Huska switched up the looks of his top three lines. Andrew Mangiapane patrolled right wing on the club's top line with Jonathan Huberdeau and Lindholm. Sharangovich, who had been in that spot, moved to left wing beside Backlund and Coronato. Ruzicka got an opportunity beside Nazem Kadri and Dube.
Jets: Play host to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday.
Flames: Head north to play the Oilers in Edmonton on Wednesday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 2, 2023.
Darren Haynes, The Canadian Press