In what was billed as the first in a 20 game stretch run to the playoffs, this game certainly didn't disappoint.
The Colorado Avalanche got revenge on the Calgary Flames in a spirited and penalty-filled 5-2 victory on Wednesday night, earning redemption after a tough loss just this past weekend.
The Calgary Flames got the first punch in on the Avalanche, dominating in an opening frame which saw four power plays. The Flames took the lead on a shorthanded goal by Mikael Backlund, who terrorized the Avalanche again and scored at 14:19 into the first period.
The second period didn't begin well for the Avalanche, either, as Michael Frolik snuck another puck past goaltender Semyon Varlamov at 2:41 with the help of some questionable defensive play.
The Avalanche didn't just roll over after getting dealt some adversity early like they had four days earlier in Calgary, though. This time, the Avalanche added two quick strikes to even up the game - one by who other than Nathan MacKinnon on the power play at 8:24, and then one more as Nikita Zadorov fired a heavy wrist shot for the second tally just 68 seconds later.
The Flames couldn't stay out of the penalty box, and negated their own power play after JT Compher drew a penalty shorthanded. Shortly after, Tyson Barrie made up for his earlier mistake and buried a tough angle shot on a great feed from Mikko Rantanen at 12:41.
Matt Nieto decided three goals in the period wasn't enough, as he added a fourth on a slick give and go play with Carl Soderberg at 18:42.
The third period was more of the same penalty-filled back and forth, which eventually ended up with 12 total power plays on the evening. The only goal was a nice moment for Duncan Siemens, who managed to score his first career NHL goal on the empty net with 17 seconds to go.
The Avalanche passed their first test on the road to the playoffs by beating a team that was directly in front of them. But a heavy division schedule beginning this weekend will be the next test to see how far this club can truly go.
A completely unexpected wrinkle in the rookie storyline of the season has been the emergence of Duncan Siemens in his fifth year playing professional hockey in the Avalanche system. In an organization quick to move on from prospects (see Chris Bigras) and reluctant to give opportunities to those who aren't fresh faces, it's been almost shocking to see Siemens living the chance that had been all but forgotten. How far he can take this opportunity nobody knows, but for now it is more than satisfying watching him take hold of every moment on the ice.
Lineup decisions are looming as Anton Lindholm and possibly others are getting healthy and will push others out of spots. How head coach Jared Bednar handles his lineup down the stretch will be very interesting.
The homestand continues as the Avalanche host the Minnesota Wild at 7pm on Friday, March 2nd.