How much did the Calgary Flames miss their captain? For starters, without heart-and-soul defenceman Mark Giordano in the lineup, the team went on a cold 5-11-2 slide through the last part of October until the end of November. At the time of the 30-year-old’s injury on Oct. 21, the Flames were 4-2-2 and playing some of their best hockey of the 2013-14 season. Logging valuable minutes (around 25 per night), being a vocal presence on the ice (he’s one of the few distinguishable voices heard from the Dome press box) and establishing himself as the 19th captain in Flames history, Giordano himself was in the midst of a career year before breaking his ankle. The Scotiabank Saddledome faithful — fully aware he was back in the lineup Wednesday against the Phoenix Coyotes — began cheering at the mere mention of his name during an honorary faceoff with Phoenix captain Shane Doan and war veterans ahead of the Canadian Armed Forced Appreciation night. Long story short, he was missed — a lot. So, it was no surprise that the team’s No. 1 workhorse would score in his first outing since that Oct. 21 game. And it was no coincidence either that the Flames gradually wore down the Phoenix Coyotes in a 4-1 victory, their second consecutive win to improve to 10-13-4. “It felt great man,” Giordano said, sporting the team’s fireman’s hat given to the hardest working player of the game. “Obviously, we didn’t have the start we wanted but a big goal at the end of the first and for me, personally, to get back in was a great feeling. “It felt pretty good. Your adrenalin gets going pretty quick. I really didn’t feel my ankle at all tonight, so it was a great sign.” Slow out of the gates, it took 11 minutes and eight seconds for the home squad to record their first shot on net — a wrister from Ladislav Smid shortly after Martin Hanzal’s hooking penalty in the first period. At the time, the Coyotes were out-shooting the Flames 7-0 and were ahead 1-0 after an early goal from Keith Yandle, who received a feed from Doan after he easily muscled Chris Butler off the puck in the corner. Turned out, though, is wasn’t a big deal because T.J. Brodie connected with seven seconds left to tie the action 1-1, fluttering a slapshot through Thomas Greiss’s five-hole. “We were expecting they would come out and try to put pressure on us and that’s exactly what they did,” said head coach Bob Hartley. “(Keith) Yandle, (Oliver) Ekman-Larsson, they’re two great defencemen and always tough to contain and always providing the second wave of attack. “That’s exactly what they did. They got us on the first goal and (after) I felt we were much better.” Tallying the go-ahead goal was Mikael Backlund — a blocker-side beaut 5:48 into the second period thanks to a crisp pass from Jiri Hudler. A few minutes passed and Giordano would connect on the team’s formerly stale power play, a shot that went off Antoine Vermette’s stick, to go up 3-1. Then, while penalty-killing in the third period (one of goaltender Karri Ramo’s two infractions during the game) Matt Stajan coolly beat Yandle at the blueline and casually skated into the Coyotes’ zone. He faked a shot and passed to Lee Stempniak who beat Greiss for the Flames’ league-leading sixth short-handed tally. “I didn’t know that, I knew we had scored some short-handed goals,” Stempniak said. “They were just trying to be more aggressive and that involves more skating. It seems like when we get a turnover or a loose puck, everyone is skating and jumping on the chances. (Wednesday), we kind of got a broken play, but Staj jumped on it and we caught them on a two-on-one and he mad a good pass.”