Preview: Avalanche at Flames
The Calgary Flames are on the ropes, losing three consecutive games to the Colorado Avalanche after winning the opener of the Western Conference first-round series at home. On the brink of elimination, the top-seeded Flames look to avoid becoming the second No. 1 seed to be ousted when they return home to face the Avalanche in Game 5 on Friday night.
Colorado erased a two-goal lead by scoring twice in the third period before Mikko Rantanen scored his second goal of the game by converting in overtime for a 3-2 victory that put the Avalanche in command of the series. “It’s huge to go up 3-1, but we’re not done yet,” goaltender Philipp Grubauer said. “They’re probably going to come even harder in Calgary and we got to win the next one.” The Flames need to figure out how to slow down the Avalanche, who have poured a staggering 108 shots on goal in the past two games to push the Flames into a must-win situation the rest of the way. "We've got to go home and play our best game in Game 5," Calgary coach Bill Peters said. "That's what we have to do; we have to win one game and take it from there."
TV: 10 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, Altitude (Colorado), CBC, TVAS, Sportsnet (Calgary)
ABOUT THE AVALANCHE: Rantanen finished second in points to Nathan MacKinnon in the regular season despite missing the final eight games due to an upper-body injury and he has provided an offensive jolt in the playoffs, leading Colorado with six points on three goals and three assists. “I think it’s important, when you’re one of the leaders of the team. You want to step up,” said Rantanen, who sent the game to overtime with a power-play goal with just under three minutes to play. MacKinnon assisted on the tying goal to give him five points in four games.
ABOUT THE FLAMES: Veteran Mike Smith posted a 1.94 goals-against average over his last 11 regular-season appearances to earn the starting job for the playoffs and has responded by making 161 saves -- 28 more than any other netminder through four games. "It's about winning, the team winning," Smith said. "I'm just one little cog. It's nice to have personal success, but when you don't get the results, it doesn't matter. You need to do more." Among those who need to do more is leading scorer Johnny Gaudreau, who has been limited to one assist in the series.
1. Calgary has allowed at least 50 shots in back-to-back games for the first time in franchise history.
2. Grubauer has turned aside 97 of 103 shots in the last three games.
3. Flames C Sean Monahan is a finalist for the Lady Byng along with Florida's Aleksander Barkov and St. Louis' Ryan O’Reilly.
PREVIEW: Flames 3, Avalanche 2