The new head coach promised a quick, creative, entertaining brand of hockey.

For one period, at least, Bob Hartley's Calgary Flames delivered exactly that.

Thing is, they only shortened the schedule, not the length of the games, and it's far too easy to forget the Flames' impressive first-period effort after they gave the game away with an awful middle frame in Sunday's 4-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks at the Saddledome.

"They won the game in the second period, there's no question," admitted Flames captain Jarome Iginla. "In games, you're going to have swings of momentum and energy. The first was our period, and we played very well. The second, they got it going in their direction and then they started playing very well and got their legs under them. We watched them a little bit."

Flames fans could get accustomed to watching what they saw for the first 20 minutes of Sunday's post-lockout season-opener. The hosts were undoubtedly the better team before the first intermission, much to the delight of an announced sellout crowd of 19,289 spectators that waited nine months between NHL games.

Credit winger Lee Stempniak with the first goal of the new campaign, a wrist-shot that zipped right by Antti Niemi's ear en route to the top corner on a first-period powerplay.

It's still Calgary's only goal of the season, though, so you can expect to hear a lot of coulda, woulda and shoulda around the water cooler Monday morning.

In the first period, alone, the Flames could have scored a half-dozen.

Steve Begin, appearing in his first big-league game in more than two years, caught a piece of the crossbar on a short-handed breakaway.

A few shifts later, Mikael Backlund — apparently oozing confidence in his new role as Calgary's second-line centre — squeezed between two defencemen but couldn't fool the goalie.

Rookie winger Sven Baertschi probably had the best opportunity of all, taking a long look at the top corner before clanging the post.