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Western Conference Playoffs Round One Preview: Game 2, Calgary Flames vs Colorado Avalanche

The 3M Line and Mike Smith will once again be keys to the Flames success in Game 2.

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

Western Conference Playoffs Round 1: Game 2

Calgary Flames (1-0) vs Colorado Avalanche (0-1), 8:30 PM MT, Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary AB

TV: NBCSN, CBC, TVAS, SN - Radio: Sportsnet 960

The Flames will hit the ice for Game 2 of the Western Conference Playoffs with a 1-0 lead in the series after a total manhandling of the Av’s in Game 1. Calgary got superb goaltending from Mike Smith who pitched his 4th career shut out in the playoffs by stopping all 26 shots he faced.

The Flames owned the Av’s top line in the opening contest as the 3M Line did a ton of damage at both ends of the ice. Mikael Backlund, Matthew Tkachuk and Michael Frolik shut down Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog for the entire game and that trio also contributed three points with Matthew Tkachuk scoring twice and Mikael Backlund collecting a marker as well. Their defensive play on the Av’s best players was something to behold as Colorado’s top three players combined for only nine shots on goal. Matthew Tkachuk was active very early in that game as well, drawing a penalty and he was third on the team with four hits. If the Flames 3M Line can keep that kind of play up they will make this a very tough series for Colorado.

The Av’s should have one simple goal for Game 2: reunite their top line of MacKinnon, Landeskog and Rantanen from the start and try to crack Calgary’s 3M Line. That group struggled against the Flames best defensive line, but they did manage nine of the team’s 26 shots. That’s 34.6% of Colorado’s shots coming from three players and it’s something the Av’s were known for all season. As that top line goes, so go the Avalanche and they’ll need to get going if they plan on making any sort of push in this series.

The Flames meanwhile got secondary scoring from Andrew Mangiapane and assists from Rasmus Andersson and Sam Bennett. That’s been a theme all season for Calgary as they can generate offence from anywhere in the lineup and seeing the fourth line open up the scoring was a great sign for this team. Calgary’s top unit of Johnny Gaudreau, Elias Lindholm and Sean Monahan will need to step up their game however, as secondary scoring is great, but it’s not something the good guys will want to rely on too much in the playoffs. That top unit combined for only one point (Lindholm assist) and six shots on net in Game 1.

Starting Goalies (E=Expected, C=Confirmed)

Flames: Smith (E)- 1-0, 0.00 GAA, 1.000 Save%

Avalanche: Grubauer (E)- 0-1, 3.05 GAA, .903 Save%

Team Leaders

Flames: Goals- Tkachuk (2), Points- Tkachuk (2), PIM- Backlund (2), Save%- Smith (1.000)

Avalanche: Goals- None, Points- None, PIM- Johnson (2), Save%- Grubauer (.903)

What’s Happening With The Opposition?

Colorado Avalanche Coverage: Mile High Hockey

Last Time Out

Calgary Flames 4 - Colorado Avalanche 0 (Recap)

Players To Watch

Calgary Flames

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

Matthew Tkachuk (F): 2 goals in Game 1 on 3 shots

Colorado Avalanche

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

Nathan MacKinnon (C): 5 SOG in Game 1