Colorado Avalanche at Calgary Flames
When and Where: Saturday, April 13, Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary, Alb., 10:30 p.m. EDT.
Calgary leads 1-0
Coming off a near-perfect performance in their series-opening win, the Calgary Flames look to maintain home-ice advantage in Game 2 against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night.
Avs seek answers to solve Smith after Game 1 blanking
The Avalanche played far too passive a game Thursday night in losing the series opener 4-0 in Calgary. While their recent history in the Saddledome has not been good — the Avs have lost six straight there and are 1-7-1 since the start of the 2014-15 season — coach Jared Bednar thinks his team failed to make things difficult on the Flames.
“We have to make sure we do a better job on our forecheck and (other) offensive-zone play in possessing the puck,” Bednar told the Denver Post. “It’s easier said than done because they’ll clamp down on you in the offensive zone. And then we need to get some more traffic in front of Smith.
“Too many times we allowed him to see the puck and establish his position. I think we can get a little bit more traffic there. It starts with getting the puck back on the forecheck and being able to possess the puck in the offensive zone.”
Special teams made a big difference as Colorado failed to convert on its four power-play chances while Calgary cashed in twice in five opportunities. The return of Mikko Rantanen, who missed the final eight games with an upper-body injury, did not impact the game all that much.
Rantanen, who finished with 31 goals and 87 points, had one shot on goal in 21-plus minutes playing left wing on the second line with center Carl Sorderberg and Colin Wilson.
“Special teams made a huge difference tonight. They capitalized. We didn’t,” said Philpp Grubauer, who stopped 28 of 31 shots. “I think we played a good game. We can learn a little bit from them. It was fun to play for sure and we’re all looking forward to Game 2. We need to get the split.”
Grubauer is now 0-2-1 with a 2.67 goals-against average and .918 save percentage lifetime versus the Flames.
Smith looks to build on win for Flames
Bill Peters’ decision to go with Mike Smith as his No. 1 goaltender paid off handsomely Thursday night. The 37-year-old finished with 26 saves — 11 of them in the third period — in recording his fourth career playoff shutout and first since 2012 with the then-Phoenix Coyotes.
“It was so needed — and I’m not speaking for him, I’m speaking for our team,” forward Matthew Tkachuksaid of the fan support for Smith to the Calgary Sun. “He has really been turning it on as of late, and I’m really happy where his game is trending right now. The way he plays the puck, I don’t think people realize how beneficial it is for us. I think he’s been great.”
“His best hockey, we talked about it this morning, has been in the last six or seven weeks and it showed here tonight,” Peters added. “I thought he was real poised, made some good plays with the puck. And then obviously, he was solid, was square, was under control. That’s what we’ve seen out of him recently, and hopefully that continues.”
Tkachuk had a power-play goal in the second period and an empty-netter in the third while thriving in his role as agitator. He, along with “3M” linemates Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik have also been tasked with shutting down Colorado’s top line of Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Alexander Kerfoot.
The Flames had gone 1 for 38 with the man advantage over their final 13 regular-season games before converting twice Thursday night. They have also killed off 12 of 13 penalties in the last six games.
Smith improved to 12-1-4 with a 1.95 GAA and three shutouts lifetime versus the Flames after winning his fourth straight start against them.
The Flames are:
- 12-4 in their last 16 games following a win.
- 44-18 in their last 62 games as favorites of -201 or greater.
- 6-0 in their last six home games vs. the Avalanche.
The Avalanche are:
- 0-6 in their last six playoff games as underdogs between +151 to +200.
- 8-17 in their last 25 games vs. above-.500 teams.
- 16-35 in their last 51 games as road underdogs between +151 to +200.