Avs march to­ward fu­til­ity


The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Rita Mingo

Spe­cial to The Den­ver Post

cal­gary, al­berta» One team can al­most taste the post­sea­son. The other has noth­ing but a bit­ter taste in its mouth.

And when the fi­nal buzzer sounded Mon­day night at the Sco­tia­bank Sad­dle­dome, the Cal­gary Flames had moved one step closer to a play­off in­vite, while the Avalanche moved one rung fur­ther down the lad­der in the NHL base­ment.

Cal­gary scored in each pe­riod to post a 4-2 vic­tory over the vis­it­ing Avalanche, which gave it a yeo­man ef­fort in the third pe­riod but still came up short.

“I liked the way we played in the third pe­riod,’’ said Colorado coach Jared Bed­nar. “We talked to them about be­ing loose and play­ing like we have noth­ing to lose. I didn’t like the op­por­tu­ni­ties we cre­ated through the first two pe­ri­ods, but third pe­riod, we were putting pucks to the net and scored a cou­ple of goals.

“It’s hard to re­cover from some of those goals we handed them. The third pe­riod was en­cour­ag­ing, but we have to be bet­ter in the first two.’’

Colorado is now 2-12 for the month of March, and 11 times dur­ing that stretch the squad has scored two goals or fewer.

The Flames jumped on the Avs early, just 23 sec­onds into the game on a lucky re­di­rect. A shot by Sean Mon­a­han bounced off the skate of de­fense­man Erik John­son stand­ing in front of Calvin Pickard, and the puck took a for­tu­itous Flames carom past the Colorado net­min­der.

Pickard was per­fect the rest of the pe­riod, look­ing ex­tremely sharp at times on eight ad­di­tional Cal­gary at­tempts. At the other end, the Flames’ Brian El­liott had to be equally strong, as many of Colorado’s six shots were of the de­cep­tive va­ri­ety.

The Avs had a great op­por­tu­nity to start the sec­ond pe­riod en­joy­ing a power play. With nine sec­onds left in Matt Sta­jan’s penalty, they had a brief 5-on-3 ad­van­tage as Mikael Back­lund went off for de­lay of game. But, alas, they weren’t able to di­rect too much in the way of traf­fic to­ward El­liott.

Less than a minute af­ter killing off the two penal­ties, the Flames made it 2-0 when Micheal Fer­land streaked into the slot and pot­ted the puck past Pickard as his de­fend­ers were all turned to­ward the net.

The Avs’ Sven An­drighetto, who has had a hot hand in 12 games since be­ing ac­quired from Mon­treal, slapped a puck which had bounced off the boards past El­liott while on the power play.

“You need your spe­cial teams if you want to win games, and it was a big goal,” said Colorado winger Mikko Ran­ta­nen. “We haven’t had that in a while.’’

But less than two min­utes later, on the man-ad­van­tage of their own, the Flames made it a twogoal game once again, Troy Brouwer do­ing the dam­age.

It has been a con­stant re­frain for Colorado, par­tic­u­larly of late, in shaky third pe­ri­ods.

But when An­drighetto scored his sec­ond, with the net empty, it was a breath of fresh air, though there was just 1:54 left in the frame.

Johnny Gau­dreau scored the empty-net­ter to seal the win.

“It was a good ef­fort,’’ said An­drighetto. “We started shoot­ing pucks in the third, crash­ing the net. Put some pres­sure on them. We have to play a full 60 to maybe give us a chance.’’

Flames for­ward Micheal Fer­land was all smiles Mon­day night af­ter scor­ing in the sec­ond pe­riod against the Avalanche at the Sad­dle­dome in Cal­gary, Al­berta. The goal was Fer­land’s 15th of the sea­son and helped the Flames de­feat the Avalanche 4-2. Derek Le­ung, Getty Images

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