After a tentative first 30 mintues from both teams, the Calgary Flames were able to take over en route to a 4-0 victory to take a 1-0 series lead over the Colorado Avalanche.
It’s going to be a nervous afternoon, luckily Avs fans have Cale Makar to watch in the National Championship game a few hours before the Avalanche hit the ice for game two of their first round series.
Game was was incredibly even for the first half but once Andrew Mangiapane was able to open the scoring, it looked as though the Flames reminded themselves that they’re the top seed in the Conference. Calgary took over and was able to come away with a rather easy victory against an Avalanche team that didn’t really have much push-back.
It didn’t take long for Coach Bednar to reunite the big-three Thursday night. Ironically, Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog actually performed better (from a statistical standpoint) with Alex Kerfoot on their wing than they did once Mikko was moved back to the top line. Rantanen definitely looked rusty after missing the last few weeks with an injury. Hopefully he gets back to his usual self quickly - otherwise the team could be in some trouble.
Patrik Nemeth only saw the ice for a little more than 13 minutes in the first game of the series. He was getting eaten alive by the Flames so it wouldn’t be surprising if we saw him taken out of the lineup at some point in the series - maybe if a certain Hobey Baker award winner become available.
In game two, it’s going to be important for the Avalanche to get on the score board early. They were able to stay even with Calgary for the first half but being unable to beat Smith proved to be costly as the Flames were able to run away with things the second they got a little momentum.
Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Alexander Kerfoot
Colin Wilson - Carl Soderberg - Mikko Rantanen
Matt Nieto - Derick Brassard - J.T. Compher
Matt Calvert - Tyson Jost - Sven Andrighetto
Samuel Girard - Erik Johnson
Nikita Zadorov - Tyson Barrie
Ian Cole - Patrik Nemeth
The 3M line did a great job of shutting down MacKinnon in Game 1. Not only that, they led the way with three of the four goals for Calgary. Between that line and a healthy dose of (future Norris Trophy winner) Mark Giordano, the Avs top players weren’t able to generate much in the way of scoring chances.
Mikael Backlund led the way with a game-high seven shots on net but it was Matthew Tkachuk that did what he did best by drawing penalties and getting under the skin of Avalanche players.
Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Elias Lindholm
Mathew Tkachuk - Mikael Backlund - Michael Frolik
Sam Bennett - Mark Jankowski - James Neal
Andrew Mangiapane - Derek Ryan - Garnet Hathaway
Mark Giordano - T.J. Brodie
Noah Hanifin - Travis Hamonic
Oscar Fantenberg - Rasmus Andersson
We have a more in-depth breakdown of the two teams going into the series here.
We’re going to see a rematch of Thursday night as Mike Smith was able to quiet skeptics with a 26-save shut out. The Avalanche didn’t test him all that much but he was solid when needed. He’s had trouble stringing together consecutive quality starts all seasons, let’s hope that continues tonight.
Philipp Grubauer was good in Game 1 for the Avs but he wasn’t the world beater the team needed to get into the playoffs. Another solid performance is necessary if the Avs want to even the series.
For those who can get it, I highly suggest watching the Sporstnet/CBC feed of the game. The Canadian network has Olympic Gold Medalist Cassie Campbell-Pascall doing color commentary for this series. For those who aren’t familiar with her work, she’s been working as an analyst for CBC since her retirement. She has only recently moved into the booth to help call games and is already becoming one of the best in the game.