The Calgary Flames lost to the Colorado Avalanche by a 3-2 score (in overtime) on Saturday night in Game 2 of the Western Conference quarterfinal series. Here are selected reactions from players and coaches following the game.
A change of momentum for both teams
Neither team was completely happy with how they played in Game 1. The Avalanche were much better in Game 2, while the Flames were fairly significantly worse.
“What I liked about our team is that were highly competitive right from the drop of the puck,” said Avalanche coach Jared Bednar. “Every guy on the roster was engaged, mentally, physically, emotionally.”
Bednar also praised his team’s attack mentality and their decision-making with the puck. As for the Flames? Well, their coach didn’t like their start at all.
“I didn’t think we started on time by any stretch of the imagination,” said Flames coach Bill Peters. “I thought there was more to give for sure.”
Mike Smith shines again
Through six and a half periods of hockey, Flames netminder Mike Smith has only allowed three goals – and just one at five-on-five. Peters had a lot of positive things to say about Smith’s game, particularly given that the team in front of him had some issues.
“He’s been solid in this series and was good again here tonight,” said Peters. “Made some big saves early to keep it at 0-0. I thought we had a few breakdowns that allowed them some real good looks in transition, and then a couple on the penalty kill for them, too, prior to the Nieto goal. He gave us a chance, for sure.”
In the Calgary locker room, there was the sense that they wasted an opportunity to capitalize on Smith’s strong play.
“No one’s happy with the way we played in the first couple periods,” said Sam Bennett. “Smitty bailed us out too amny times to count. He’s been playing great and we’ve got to do a better job in front of him, and we’re going to learn our lesson and play Game 3 with a lot more urgency.”
The Flames were out-chanced by the Avalanche 22-9 in regulation (and 8-4 in terms of high-danger scoring chances). They were extremely fortunate to have a chance to win.
Round two goes to Nathan MacKinnon
In Game 1, the Flames used Mikael Backlund’s line to frustrate and stymie Avalanche sniper Nathan MacKinnon and his top line. In Game 2, the tides turned as the Avalanche really pushed the pace, fore-checked hard and made it challenging for the Flames to get out of their zone clean.
A shift that encapsulated the entire game happened at beginning of the third period, when a Backlund turnover behind his own net led to a shift in the defensive zone that lasted the better part of two full minutes with the Avalanche cycling the puck, skating hard, and wearing the Flames down.
“You have to challenge other teams and force them into mistakes,” said Bednar. “The other night we didn’t do that, today we did.”
The Flames made more mistakes than the Avalanche did, and now the series is tied up at 1-1 heading back to Denver.