The Calgary Flames crept into the Mile High City on Sunday night, visiting a desperate, winless Colorado Avalanche squad. After a hard-fought 60 minute effort featuring some superb netminding, the Flames flew home having steadied their pre-season record at the .500 mark (3-3-0), while the Avalanche dropped to 0-4-1 following a 2-1 win for the visitors.
The first period was basically a punch/counterpunch period, with the Avalanche mostly doing the punching and the Flames trying to roll with it. The Avalanche out-shot the Flames by a hefty 13-5 margin. However, Michael Ferland converted one of those five shots past Semyon Varlamov to send the Flames to the intermission with a 1-0 lead.
Both teams exchanged goals in the middle frame. Ryan O’Reilly finally converted a chance to tie the game at 1-1 early in the period. However, roughly 90 seconds later, the Flames went back up. Once again, Michael Ferland scored – off a nice set-up by Lance Bouma – to make it 2-1 for the visiting side. The shots were pretty close to even in the second at 12-10 for the Flames, but by all accounts the most impressive chances were for the Avalanche and Karri Ramo did his best to keep all but one out.
Colorado came out desperate in the third period and dominated play in much the same manner that they did in the first. Calgary did their best to keep things to the outside and to counterpunch. Despite all their chances, the Avalanche could not score – they led 13-7 in shots – and the game ended with a 2-1 victory for the Flames.
WHY THE FLAMES WON
They got excellent goaltending and timely goals. Karri Ramo made 22 saves in the first two periods and Joni Ortio mopped up with a 13-save relief appearance. Without their heroics, the timely goals would’ve been for naught.
Gotta give it to Ramo here. He was in beast mode despite getting just his second sniff of pre-season action after being sidelined with a hip injury.
Honourable mention to Michael Ferland, who put up two goals and four hits in 13:20 of work.
SUM IT UP
Arguably out-manned and out-gunned, the Flames iced a roster full mostly of tweeners and out-worked the Colorado Avalanche. Bolstered by some great goaltending from last year’s NHL and AHL starters, they got a pair of goals and managed to be good enough to win the game.
The Flames and Avalanche fly to Calgary and are back at it in a return engagement on Tuesday evening. The puck drops at 7pm MT on Sportsnet 960 The Fan.