The Colorado Avalanche took a brief pit stop at home for one game in the middle of a six game road stretch before they head back east at the beginning of the week for the second leg. Games against the Calgary Flames are never easy and this one proved the trend as the Avalanche blew an early lead and lost 3-2 in overtime to the Flames.
The Avalanche, specifically the top line, wasted no time in getting things going just 11 seconds into the contest with a stellar play from Mikko Rantanen who shot a backhand on net and then Nathan MacKinnon was in perfect position to clean up the rebound for his already sixth goal of the season. That’s also a Rantanen primary assist on every one of those six goals.
The party was just getting started minutes later JT Compher took advantage of TJ Brodie fumbling the puck with a steal and a quick shot to give the Avalanche a 2-0 lead less than three minutes into the game. That’s where the game would sit heading into the first intermission. The Avalanche could have easily scored a couple more goals and the Flames had a few chances as well but the home team clearly had the momentum with a 17-10 shot advantage.
The second period began to turn the tide for the Flames and was inevitable when Sam Bennett converted at 10:52 driving hard to the net. It would be all Calgary from that point on when they held the Avalanche to nine shots in the last two periods and just three in the third frame for a 39-26 advantage for the Flames in regulation. Elias Lindholm completed the comeback at 18:06 off of a turnover and the teams were headed to overtime.
The extra period did not last long as the Avalanche came out careless and too aggressive with both Tyson Barrie and Erik Johnson trying to do everything themselves. Johnny Gaudreau got a quick breakaway and added the final dagger at 46 seconds into overtime.
It is tough to hold on to a lead when its grabbed minutes into a game and the Avalanche couldn’t sustain their momentum for a full game. They were flying early on and took “playing fast” to another level. At times it looked like controlled chaos. What they didn’t account for was the Flames being able to push back playing fast, skilled and physical. For the Avalanche to take the next step they need to be able to find another few tricks in the tool bag other than using their speed, which has been a big advantage.
Relying on the Carl Soderberg line with Matt Nieto and Gabe Bourque as the long term “shutdown line” was a disaster waiting to happen and it finally bit them on the scoreboard. Matt Nieto was at least partly responsible for the turnover which led to Lindholm’s goal but the trio had another sub 30% Corsi For outing and each sit below 40% on the season. Ian Cole and Tyson Barrie each also hit the under 30% club in this game as well. Coach Bednar might be correct in pointing to a bit of self-satisfaction after the team jumped out to such an early lead but facing the facts on some lineup decisions is in order as well.
Semyon Varlamov had another stellar outing and can’t shoulder the blame in this loss. He currently sits after four games played with a 1.50 Goals Against Average and a .953 save percentage after making 38 saves in this game. As a pending unrestricted free agent, it seems likely the Calgary Flames liked what they saw on this evening should Varlamov indeed hit the market. It is also likely Varlamov could see a significant number of starts on the upcoming road trip.
A date with the New York Rangers to kick off a four game trip in the east on Tuesday, October 16th at 5pm MT.