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Flames Drop Opener To Avalanche 5-3

If you like penalties, this game was for you.

NHL: Calgary Flames at Colorado Avalanche Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Calgary Flames (3) - Colorado Avalanche (5)

Complete Stats

Scoring

Calgary: PPG Monahan (1) (Lindholm/Gaudreau, 1st @ 8:33), PPG Gaudreau (1) (Monahan/Tkachuk 2nd @ 1:50), Giordano (1) (Bennett/Ryan, 2nd @ 17:07)

Colorado: PPG Donskoi (1) (Girard/Burakovsky, 1st @ 5:59), Rantanen (1) (Landeskog 1st @ 16:08), Compher (1) (Calvert/Zadrov 2nd @ 12:22), PPG Rantanen (2) (MacKinnon Makar, 2nd @ 16:51), Empty Net Donskoi (2) (Unassisted, 3rd @ 18:51)

Recap

Another season opener, another “L.” The Flames dropped a 5-3 decision to the Colorado Avalanche making it 10 straight season openers where Calgary has failed to secure a win. It’s also their 5th straight loss to the Avs if you count their four straight defeats during the first round of the playoffs last season.

Colorado looked to run away with this early as Joonas Donskoi (2) would score with just under six minutes gone in the opening frame, but the Flames would strike back quickly with help from their top line. Sean Monahan would pot Calgary’s first goal of the season and hopes of a opening night victory would be rekindled. Mikko Rantanen (2) would round out the scoring by depositing his first of two goals on the night into the back of the net and Colorado would take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.

It’s a shame Calgary couldn’t have done more damage in the second period because they truly turned this game around after the intermission. After mustering only four shots in the first period, Calgary fired 13 shots at Phillip Grubauer, but only lit the lamp twice. Johnny Gaudreau and Mark Giordano would each score in the period, but despite out shooting and out playing the Avalanche the Flames would once again finish a period in a hole, down 4-3 thanks to J.T. Compher and Mikko Rantanen goals.

The final period was an exciting period for sure as each team traded solid scoring chances and back and forth hockey. Where Grubauer struggled early on, he was the exact opposite in the third period. He stopped all 14 shots that came his way and Joonas Donskoi’s empty net goal with a little over a minute left sank the Flames again in a season opener.

Final Thoughts

You can look at this game a few different ways, but it all came down to Colorado having the jump early, taking advantage of their special teams opportunities and playing extremely physical. Austin Czarnik found out twice what it’s like to be hit by a 6’6” Russian in Nikita Zadorov. Czarnik would leave the game after the second hit and not return.

Calgary Flames v Colorado Avalanche Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

The Flames certainly didn’t let themselves be pushed around. Calgary threw 20 hits compared to Colorado’s 15 and Milan Lucic made his presence felt as well. Looch wasn’t thrilled with Zadrov’s second hit on Czarnik and when the Russian Giant wouldn’t drop the gloves, Lucic just punched him in the face, earning an instigator, fighting and misconduct penalty. At the time it wasn’t a great penalty to take, but I like that Lucic knows his role and he threw himself right into the mix.

Speaking of penalties.....what was that all about? There were 44 minutes in penalties handed out tonight, all in the first two periods. The game had zero flow for almost 40 minutes while players went back and forth to the penalty box. The Flames suffered the most from this nonsense as they surrendered two power play goals while they were fortunate enough to kill four. That’s right, SIX penalties for the Flames. Colorado took four in their own right and Calgary was able to capitalize on two of those opportunities.

All in all not a great showing for the Flames, but it’s game one of 82. David Rittich had a decent night in net, stopping 28 of the 32 shots that came his way. He made some incredible saves throughout the night that kept the Flames in the game, but he also was slightly overzealous with his puck handling at times.

Flame Of The Game

NHL: Calgary Flames at Colorado Avalanche Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Giordano (D). The Captain and birthday boy had a goal on the night and looked like he hasn’t missed a beat from last season. He was second on the Flames on SOG (4), had four blocked shots and he led the team in TOI with 24:05.

What’s Next?

10/5: Calgary Flames vs Vancouver Canucks, 8 PM MT