Avalanche douse Flames out of play­offs with 5-1 win

The Prince George Citizen - - Sports - Donna SPENCER

CAL­GARY — Add the Cal­gary Flames to shock­ing Stan­ley Cup play­off ex­its this sea­son.

The Colorado Avalanche de­feated the Flames 5-1 on Fri­day to win their first-round series four games to one. The Avalanche ad­vanced to the second round of play­offs for the first time since 2008.

Cal­gary topped the Western Con­fer­ence with a 50-27-7 record, but bowed out to a team that sprinted the fi­nal two weeks of the reg­u­lar sea­son to se­cure the last wild-card berth.

Colin Wil­son and Mikko Ran­ta­nen led Colorado with two goals and an as­sist apiece. Starter Philipp Grubauer 28 saves and re­pelled a Johnny Gau­dreau penalty shot in the first pe­riod.

Avalanche cap­tain Gabriel Lan­deskog scored while Nathan MacKin­non and Tyson Bar­rie had three as­sists apiece.

T.J. Brodie coun­tered for the Flames, with Mike Smith stop­ping 27 shots in the loss.

The Flames fol­low the Tampa Bay Light­ning in the hasty elim­i­na­tion of a top team from Stan­ley Cup con­tention.

The Light­ning were swept in four straight by the Colum­bus Blue Jack­ets af­ter earn­ing the Pres­i­dents’ Trophy with the reg­u­lar sea­son’s best record (62-16-4).

Cal­gary ranked second in goal scor­ing in the reg­u­lar sea­son be­hind the Light­ning and tied with San Jose. But af­ter open­ing the series with a 4-0 vic­tory, the Flames didn’t score more than two goals in any game af­ter that.

The NHL’s high­est scor­ing team on home ice this sea­son mus­tered only one in Game 5 de­spite head coach Bill Peters jug­gling his lines in an at­tempt to spark the of­fence.

Play­off vet­eran James Neal was a healthy scratch for the Flames with Austin Czarnik draw­ing in on the third line for his NHL play­off de­but. Gau­dreau, Cal­gary’s top goal scorer, was thwarted in the series. His frus­tra­tion con­tin­ued Fri­day.

Gau­dreau’s penalty shot at­tempt was un­suc­cess­ful, he shot the puck wide on a clear first-pe­riod break­away and had what would have been his first goal of these play­offs waived off for goal­tender in­ter­fer­ence in the second.

Colorado was the more con­fi­dent team Fri­day af­ter com­ing from be­hind to win both the second and fourth games of the series 3-2 in over­time, and de­ci­sively beat­ing Cal­gary 6-2 in Game 3.

The Avalanche con­tin­ued to beat Cal­gary to the puck in all three zones and make the Flames chase and defend.

Ran­ta­nen’s wrist shot over Smith’s left shoul­der 57 sec­onds into the third pe­riod dead­ened Sco­tia­bank Sad­dle­dome as Flames fans be­gan com­ing to grips with team’s im­pend­ing first-round up­set.

From the slot, Wil­son redi­rected a MacKin­non shot on Smith stick side for a power-play goal at 14:47 of the second pe­riod.

Wil­son earned his first at 6:52 when Ran­ta­nen blocked a clear­ing at­tempt by Cal­gary’s Ras­mus An­der­s­son and dished to him in the high slot.

The Flames were out­shot 15-9 and trailed 2-1 af­ter the open­ing pe­riod, with Brodie scor­ing with five sec­onds re­main­ing to halve the deficit. The de­fence­man’s wrist shot beat Grubauer top shelf at 19:55 on a feed from Sam Bennett. When Gau­dreau shot the puck wide on a break­away, the Avs scored on the re­turn trip to make it 2-0 at 15:38.

Ran­ta­nen cir­cled out from be­hind Smith and put the puck off the back of the Cal­gary net­min­der to score.

Gau­dreau had taken off on a par­tial break­away just minutes ear­lier.

With Bar­rie and Cale Makar on his back, Gau­dreau’s back­hand was just wide, but he was awarded a penalty shot.

Gau­dreau went fore­hand to back­hand, but Grubauer snapped his left pad down to deny him.

Colorado scored first when Lan­deskog de­flected a Bar­rie wrist shot by Smith’s glove at 9:40.

CP PHOTO

Cal­gary Flames left wing Johnny Gau­dreau (13) is stopped on a penalty shot by Colorado Avalanche goal­tender Philipp Grubauer (31) dur­ing first pe­riod NHL play­off ac­tion in Cal­gary on Fri­day.

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