A highly anticipated Western Conference matchup finally came. The Calgary Flames faced off against the Colorado Avalanche in a regular season game for the first time since December 9, 2019. It’d be a huge litmus test for the Flames this time around as they were previously dominated by the Avalanche right out of the first round of the 2019 playoffs.
With the best teams in the Pacific and Central divisions meeting for the first time this season, both were looking to get back into the win column after different streaks were snapped for each team. The Flames saw their 11-game home winning streak come to an end with an overtime loss against the Montreal Canadiens, while the Avalanche saw their first regulation loss in a one-goal game (12–0–4 previously) as well as after scoring the first goal (30–0–3 previously).
Just 42 seconds in the game, the Avalanche struck first. Daniel Vladar was the Flames’ starter and despite making a highlight-reel sprawling stick save against Valeri Nichushkin, the puck immediately dropped into the crease and was cleaned up by Gabriel Landeskog.
However, less than two minutes later the Flames responded. Off a power play faceoff win, the Flames first line trio passed the puck around and converted just five seconds into the man-advantage as Elias Lindholm one-timed a shot past Darcy Kuemper to tie the game up at 1–1.
The Flames had a fairly strong period against the Avalanche all things considered. However, towards the end of the frame, the Avalanche power play restored its lead. Lindholm and Dillon Dube were pressing in the offensive zone and were unfortunately late coming back on a 3-on-2 situation. Transitioning into the Flames’ zone, the Avalanche sent some lateral passes that ended up with Andre Burakovsky releasing a wicked shot that beat Vladar above his shoulder.
However, rather than going into the first intermission down a goal, the Flames tied things back up before the buzzer went off. The Avalanche failed to clear their zone and the puck was kept in by Nikita Zadorov. He passed it to Matthew Tkachuk, who then no-look backhanded a pass into the slot, where no other than Lindholm was already waiting for another one-timer goal.
The two teams put together a highly entertaining first period, as one might have expected with them.
Just 87 seconds into the second, the Flames got their first lead of the game thanks to a booming slap shot by Erik Gudbranson that went off the far post and in. The goal ended Kuemper’s night and Pavel Francouz came into the game in relief.
Just before the midpoint of the game, the Flames had a great opportunity to get ahead by another goal as Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau had a 2-on-1. The only problem was that Colorado’s “one” was Cale Makar, who made the exact right call to sprawl on the ice to take away the passing lane.
Gaudreau tried to find Sean Monahan trailing in, but Makar picked up the loose puck and sprung up to create a 3-on-2 opportunity for the Avalanche. A couple passes later and Nathan MacKinnon tied the game up at 3–3 on a laser.
The first half of the third period pretty much flew by. While the Flames had a few good chances, the score remained tied. As the period progressed, both teams started to play a little bit more cautiously—until they didn’t.
Towards the end of the period, Tkachuk and Makar were both sitting for two minutes after taking offsetting penalties. The extra room really opened up the game as it led to a lot of chances for both teams. With under five minutes to go, the sense on the ice shifted towards next goal wins rather than trying to take the game to overtime.
However, neither team was able to score. With under a minute to go, the Avalanche were effectively down a player with a broken stick, but the Flames couldn’t get a clean chance. Tried as they did, neither team scored the go-ahead goal and it’d take overtime to solve the game.
Early in overtime, the Avalanche has possession in the Flames zone, but a strong physical presence by Lindholm knocked the puck off of Mikko Rantanen’s stick. As soon as the puck came loose, Gaudreau immediately sprung himself for a breakaway. As Lindholm corralled the puck by the far boards, he spotted Gaudreau for a stretch pass and the rest was history.
Taking Lindholm’s pass off the boards, Gaudreau escaped MacKinnon and took a clean shot that beat Francouz to end the game. 4–3 final score!
Check out the data visualisations from the game below!
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