About Last Night Round 1 Game 4: Flames undone by poor puck possession in crucial Game 4 loss

After what can only be described as a nightmare of a Game 3, the Calgary Flames looked to bounce back and tie their Round 1 series up at two games a piece. Mike Smith got his fourth straight start in net and looked to lock it down for the Flames.

The first period started out well for the Flames as they pressured the Avalanche. As the first period wore on, it was a very back and forth affair with both teams getting their chances.

The first would go by relatively quickly with neither team able to get on the board.

In the second period, the pace would ramp up even more. The Flames struck first while on the powerplay. As the Flames were able to cycle the puck around, it worked its way back to Elias Lindholm at the point and he fired a shot that fluttered past Philipp Grubauer for a 1-0 lead.

The second period would end with that same score and Calgary had much needed momentum.

As the third period began, Colorado seemed to take control of the game as they did in the third game, until the Flames were able to push back and make it 2-0 on a Derek Ryan goal.

That goal would be Ryan’s first playoff goal and the first playoff point for Juuso Valimaki, who grabbed the primary assist.

Less than two minutes later however, Colorado pushed back within one goal. J.T. Compher shoveled home a rebound over top of a sprawling Mike Smith, who had just made a brilliant save.

The Avalanche continued to push and with just under three minutes left it would be a deja vu from Game 2, as Mikko Rantanen tipped home a Nathan MacKinnon pass, all while Mikael Backlund was in the box for an untimely tripping penalty.

Despite a Flames delay of game penalty right after the Avalanched tied it, Calgary survived and the game required overtime.

As it was all night, overtime started with a flurry. Calgary would get a chance to put it away with a power play on a penalty to Ian Cole for delay of game.

The Flames were unable to get any real sustained pressure on their opportunity and shortly thereafter, the Avalanche would break in with a fast transition, Rantanen burying a shot past Smith for the game winning goal.

Down 3-1 in the series, the Flames will go back to Calgary hoping for a boost playing in front of the C of Red. The Flames will need to win out if they want to make it to the second round.

Statistical Breakdown

Team Stats

All Situations 5v5 5v5 SVA
CF42.1%40.7%44.4%
SCF36.2%36.7%40.5%
HDCF37.8%40.6%45.5%

5v5 Player Stats

Calgary Flames
  • Valimaki finished with a team high 65.4 CF%
  • Johnny Gaudreau, Backlund, and Ryan each had two individual high-danger CF to lead their team
  • Andrew Mangiapane had a team leading 75.0 high-danger CF%
Colorado Avalanche
  • Tyson Jost led the way for Colorado with a 75.0 CF%
  • Rantanen was the Avalanche’s leader with a 6 high-danger CF
  • Erik Johnson had a team-worst 48.9% CF, every other Avalanche was positive
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
Valimaki – Andersson

Smith
Rittich

Colorado Avalanche

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

Cole – Johnson
Zadorov – Barrie
Makar – Nemeth

Grubauer
Varlamov

Stats courtesy: DailyFaceoff

Thoughts on the Game

The Flames managed to play a better game at times in Game 4, and you could consider their improvements baby steps. The problem now is that baby steps just won’t cut it for the playoffs.

After a disheartening 3-2 overtime loss to go down 3-1 in the series, Calgary faces the same do or die situation that the East’s #1 seed, the Tampa Bay Lightning, faced already. I am sure that both teams and their fans did not imagine being in this spot when the playoffs started.

After watching Calgary post their best season in nearly 30 years, it has been a very tough series to watch, as the Flames have not had any answers for Colorado’s pressure.

To make matters worse the Flames’ top players have not taken their games to the next level like the Avalanche’s top players have. Outside of Matthew Tkachuk, The Flames’ three other top forwards have looked disinterested, or lost, or both.

The same style of game that Calgary used to frustrate opponents all season has seemingly been flipped around on them and is being used to perfection by Colorado.

Baby steps definitely won’t do and we have to hope for a very quick turnaround and a complete comeback from this Flames squad. If not, both East and West #1 seeds will be eliminated in Round 1 for the first time in NHL history.

The Gaud, the Bad, and the Ugly

Good: Calgary were in this one until the end at least.

Bad: The strong possession game that Calgary had all season has completely disappeared.

Ugly: Whistles.

Next Game

Round 1 Game 5
April 19, 2019
Colorado leads series 3-1


Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

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