About Last Night Round 1 Game 3: Flames dominated by Avalanche, blown out in Denver

With the series tied at one game a piece, the Calgary Flames and Colorado Avalanche headed to the mile high city for game three on Monday night. Coming off the overtime defeat on Saturday, the Flames were looking to regain their home ice advantage edge.

The Flames would make one alteration to their lineup, with T.J. Brodie and Rasmus Andersson swapping places on the blue line. The Avalanche would make the more notable change, with newly minted Hobey Baker winner Cale Makar making his NHL debut.

It is safe to say it was all Avalanche last night, and that started fairly early on. The Flames were hit with dual minor penalties early in the first, giving the Avalanche a full two minute 5-on-3. Nathan MacKinnon would continue his scoring, netting his second of the series to make it 1-0.

It would be deja vu nearly four minutes later, as MacKinnon would yet again score a power play goal to extend their lead to two. Only a few short minutes after that, the aforementioned Makar would get in on the action scoring his first NHL goal. The Flames were caught flat footed, being out shot 21-8 in the opening frame, and went down three goals heading into the second period.

In that stanza, it would be more of the same. Off of a lazy power play entry, the Avalanche would capitalize on a shorthanded odd man rush. Matt Nieto would score a shorthanded goal in back to back games, making it a 4-0 contest.

The Flames would finally get on the board, as on the same power play Sam Bennett would deflect a shot in off of his skate, bringing the Flames within three. Unfortunately, the Avs would add another goal before the period end, with Mikko Rantanen putting a shot past Mike Smith.

In the final frame, the teams would exchange goals, and a few kerfuffles, but the Avalanche’s lead would not be overcome. The Avalanche dominate the Flames to take the 2-1 series lead.

Statistical Breakdown

Team Stats

All Situations5v55v5 SVA
CF43.3%46.9%42.1%
SCF35.8%40.9%38.8%
HDCF28.0%35.7%34.6%

5v5 Player Stats

Calgary Flames
Colorado Avalanche
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick

Line Combinations

Calgary Flames

Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
Bennett – Jankowski – Neal
Mangiapane – Ryan – Hathaway

Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Hamonic
Fantenberg – Andersson

Smith
Rittich

Colorado Avalanche

Landeskog – MacKinnon – Kerfoot
Wilson – Soderberg – Rantanen
Compher – Jost
Nieto – Calvert – Bourque

Cole – Johnson
Zadorov – Barrie
Makar – Nemeth

Grubauer
Varlamov

Stats courtesy: DailyFaceoff

Thoughts on the Game

Easily the most concerning loss since the 9-1 debacle in early October. That is saying something.

Yes the officiating was bad early, yet again, which really set the tone for the Avalanche. The two early power play goals against simply put the Flames in a hole they could not recover from. Even though they have been resilient all season, they completely rolled over right off the bat. It was almost shades of last season where one goal against completely folded the team.

The reason the game is so concerning is due to a wealth of individual performances, or lack thereof. Johnny Gaudreau simply cannot be effective due to the amount of slashes he is receiving, but also because his line mates are completely ineffective.

Monahan seems stuck in the pre-season, Elias Lindholm has been quietly invisible has been quietly invisible, Brodie has been on the wrong side of far too many bad choices, and even Giordano has been nowhere near his Norris level calibre.

The fact that so many players level of play is plummeting at the same time does not bode well for anyone. The Flames need one of the big guns to snap out of it immediately.

For everyone hopping off the Mike Smith bandwagon last night, better hold on to your ticket. The Flames goalie was left out to dry on countless occasions and frankly kept the team in the game early on.

Sure he let in a few he would like to have back, but he’s been absolutely peppered by shots this series. The Flames have finally gotten quality goaltending, but can’t expect that to get them by every night.

The Gaud, the Bad, and the Ugly

Good: Bennett has been a beast this post season. Him and his mustache have made the past two games bearable.

Bad: Serious question, what role does Mark Jankowski play at this stage? A mediocre penalty killer isn’t enough in the playoffs.

Ugly: The top line. Do more.

Next Game

Round 1 Game 4
April 17, 2019
Colorado leads 2-1


Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

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