The Calgary Flames have their backs against the wall as they travel to the Pepsi Center for Game 4 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal matchup against the Colorado Avalanche.
The Flames were supposed to cruise through the first round as the No. 1-seed the in the West after compiling 107 points during the regular season. After winning Game 1 in convincing fashion with a 4-0 shutout, the Flames have suddenly lost back-to-back games to enter Wednesday in a must-win spot. Can the Avalanche take control of the series with a pivotal Game 4 victory over Calgary on Wednesday night?
Flames go down 2-1 after disappointing Game 3 effort
The Flames will have to battle their way back from a 2-1 series deficit after coming out flat and losing 6-2 to the Avalanche on Monday. Calgary went down 3-0 in the first period and 6-1 before a late goal by T.J. Brodie salvaged from pride on the scoreboard. Sam Bennett scored the only other goal in a paltry offensive performance for the Flames, which saw them get out-shot 56 to 29 on the night. Veteran goaltender Mike Smith did his best to keep Calgary in the game, stopping 50 of 56 shots in a losing effort.
Smith is expected to patrol the crease for the Flames once again in Game 4. The 37-year-old comes in with a solid 2.87 GAA and a .926 save percentage through the first three games of the series, While the veteran was excellent in the Game 2 loss, he struggled last game, especially in the first period. There was some thought to pulling Smith in the second period to conserve some of his energy, but the veteran didn’t want to surrender the net.
MacKinnon nets two in pivotal Game 3 win
Colorado used an offensive onslaught in Game 3 to take a 2-1 series lead. Nathan MacKinnon scored twice in the first period and Mikko Rantanen finished with a goal and two assists to lead the Avalanche to a 6-2 victory. Just two days after competing in the NCAA Hockey Championship Cale Makar made his NHL debut in Game 3 of the NHL Playoffs, scoring his first career goal in the first period to help Colorado take a convincing 3-0 lead. Matt Nieto had another shorthanded goal and Erik Johnson also scored, while Philipp Grubauer allowed just two goals on 29 shots to five Colorado a chance at an unlikely upset.
Perhaps the biggest story over Game 3 was Colorado’s execution on the power play, especially early on, as each of MacKinnon’s two first period goals came with the man advantage. Colorado converted on 2 of their 8 power play opportunities in Game 3, which now puts them at just 2 for 16 for the series (12.5 percent). Nieto has also been a major contributor in Colorado’s two victories, notching a shorthanded goal in each of those games.
Grubauer is scheduled to be back between the pipes for the Avs in Game 4 on Wednesday night. The 27-year-old has been getting hot over the last two games and now has a 2.24 GAA and a .928 save percentage during the series.
- Avalanche are 10-4 in their last 14 overall.
- Avalanche are 5-2 in their last 7 vs. Pacific.
- Avalanche are 9-4 in their last 13 vs. Western Conference.
- Flames are 3-13 in their last 16 games following a loss of 3 or more goals.
- Flames are 1-5 in their last 6 vs. Central.
- Flames are 1-6 in their last 7 Conference Quarterfinals games.