Avs march toward futility
FLAMES 4, AVALANCHE 2
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