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Five Reasons the Flames Won Game 1

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Calgary jumped out to a 1-0 series lead

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Colorado Avalanche at Calgary Flames Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The Calgary Flames took a 1-0 lead in their quarterfinal series with the Colorado Avalanche with a 4-0 victory last night at the Scotiabank Saddledome. It was a huge win for the Flames who were looking to slow down the Avs who entered the postseason red hot. You can read our recap about the game here and our Morning After article here.

1. Mike Smith

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Colorado Avalanche at Calgary Flames Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

Yeah we would’ve thought after the first half of the season that he had that the C of Red would be chanting his name. Smith came out with perhaps his best performance of the season in the biggest game of the season (so far) and quieted a lot of his doubters. Considering everybody outside of Calgary thought Phillip Grubauer was the red-hot goalie who was going to dominate the series and that Smith was going to get lit up, it was great to see Smith dazzle in Game 1. He also picked up an assist on the Flames fourth goal, meaning he has more playoff points than anyone on Colorado.

2. The Fourth Line Does it Again

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Colorado Avalanche at Calgary Flames Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

After nearly 45 minutes of scoreless hockey, Andrew Mangiapane broke the stalemate after a hit along the boards by Garnet Hathaway and a smooth/subtle pick play by Derek Ryan gave him space. Mangiapane’s goal was his first career playoff goal in his first career playoff game. That line also factored in with a great chance later in the period where Hathaway was hauled down on an attempt, still ringing the puck off the crossbar. On the ensuing powerplay the Flames made it 2-0.

3. The Special Teams Units Had a Great Night

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Colorado Avalanche at Calgary Flames Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

Much has already been said about how the Flames powerplay struggled mightily to end the season, but their penalty kill had also struggled too. The Flames finished the regular season with the eighth worst home PK in the league, so to see them go 4/4 against the 7th overall Avs unit was impressive.

Obviously the powerplay can’t be overlooked either, scoring twice with one goal from each unit. The Flames were able to capitalize with the extra man last night, and those goals really helped Calgary distance themselves from the Avalanche.

4. The 3M Line 3M’d Last Night

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Colorado Avalanche at Calgary Flames Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

We knew coming into the series that their job would be shutting down one of the league’s best in Nathan Mackinnon. So far so good as the Avs superstar was limited to only a handful of chances last night. The Flames had five high danger chances compared to only two for Colorado when Mackinnon was on the ice. To top it off, Matthew Tkachuk got the first two postseason goals of his career and Mikael Backlund put one in himself on the powerplay.

3M gonna 3M.

5. The Flames Brought the Grit/Toughness

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Colorado Avalanche at Calgary Flames Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

It seems that the days of the Flames being labelled as a “soft team” are long gone. No longer are the Flames pushed around in the playoffs. Any time the Avs took a shot last night, the Flames gave one right back. Calgary played a hard hitting and physical game all night long and really took it to an Avalanche team that grew increasingly frustrated as the night wore on.

The Flames put their body on the line last night, recording 36 hits which tied a season high, and blocking 19 shots (6 courtesy of Travis Hamonic).