Could you feel that electricity in the city of Calgary last night? The C of Red sure could, and as it turned out, so could the Flames themselves. With the regular season in the rear-view mirror, playoff time had officially arrived in the city of Calgary.
The Flames looked to Mike Smith as their Game 1 starter and he proved to be the unquestionable right choice. After a rocky start to the season and deserved critique, Smith’s game really rounded into form down the stretch, and that continued into Game 1 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The first period saw a lot of back and forth play to start the night, with Colorado seizing momentum at the tail end of the first thanks in part to two late power play opportunities. Calgary’s penalty kill looked much improved though as it killed off both chances and ensured that the first ended at 0-0.
The second started much the same way as T.J. Brodie was called for hooking Gabriel Landeskog at the 0:49 mark. The Flames’ penalty kill would shine once again as they killed off the third consecutive Avalanche power-play, and started to gain momentum with their 5v5 play.
As the second wore on and the Flames gained momentum, the red hot “DAG Line” would get the ball rolling. At 14:25 of the second, playoff rookie Andrew Mangiapane drove the puck across the front of the Avs net, waited out Colorado starter Philip Grubauer, and slid the puck underneath the sprawling netminder for a 1-0 lead.
A little over four minutes later Calgary extended their lead to 2-0 with Colorado defenceman Patrick Nemeth sitting in the box. The Flames worked the puck back to the point and captain Mark Giordano fired a shot that was tipped home by Matthew Tkachuk for his first ever playoff goal. The play was under a lengthy review for goalie interference but the goal was good.
Heading into the third Calgary continued to carry large portions of the play at 5v5. They broke through for their third goal (second on the power play) as Mikael Backlund netted his first of the postseason to extend the lead.
Colorado did manage to gain pockets of momentum throughout the third period, however the Backlund goal would prove costly. Having to be more aggressive, Colorado pulled their goalie right after the Flames’ third goal, which led to another quick strike.
Matthew Tkachuk sniped his second of the game from his own blueline into the empty net. Mike Smith earned the lone assist on the Tkachuk goal, to go along with his fourth career playoff shutout.
All-in-all it was the perfect start to what will hopefully be a long playoff run for this Flames squad, and the vocal C of Red. The night concluded with the 4-0 score and a little bit of rough stuff after a Landeskog slash to the back of Elias Lindholm‘s legs with less than eight seconds left in the game.
|All Situations||5v5||5v5 SVA|
5v5 Player Stats
- James Neal led the Flames with a 66.7% CF
- Backlund was tops on the Flames with 3 individual high-danger CF
- Sam Bennett and Mangiapane both had a 100.0% high-danger CF
- Tyson Jost led the way for Colorado with a 61.5% CF
- Ian Cole was the Avalanche’s leader with a 75.0% SCF
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
Bennett – Jankowski – Neal
Mangiapane – Ryan – Hathaway
Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Hamonic
Fantenberg – Andersson
Landeskog – MacKinnon – Kerfoot
Wilson – Soderberg – Rantanen
Nieto – Brassard – Compher
Calvert – Jost – Andrighetto
Girard – Johnson
Zadorov – Barrie
Cole – Nemeth
Stats courtesy: DailyFaceoff
Thoughts on the Game
With the anticipation building for much of the last two weeks leading up to the playoffs, both the Calgary Flames and the C of Red came out in force on the opening night of the Flames’ playoffs.
You really couldn’t have scripted a better way for this game to go. I am sure that there were many fans out there who were a little nervous about the goaltending heading into the post season. Smith passed that first test with flying colours, as did the entire team.
On a night that was electric from the start, these Flames showed why they were one of the best throughout the regular season. As expected though, Colorado proved that they will not be an easy out. This should be a very entertaining series.
Another very encouraging sign was the Flames’ depth continued to be on display, and they got contributions from up and down the lineup in many key ways. Calgary was physical and were able to create space for themselves with their aggressive style.
With such a strong effort all around we would be remiss though to not point out that this was, at least in part, the Tkachuky Cheese and Breadman show.
Hopefully Calgary can carry this momentum into Game 2 and beyond. One down and fifteen to go.
The Gaud, the Bad, and the Beautiful
Good: The Calgary offence stayed consistent and even saw an improved power play. This will be a key to a long playoff run.
Bad: Colorado decided to get a little too chippy near the end of the game, not a good look.
Beautiful: Two words. Mike Smith!
Round 1 Game 2
April 13, 2019
Calgary leads 1-0
Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images