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Avalanche 5, Flames 1: Elimination time

The recap we were hoping we wouldn’t have to write.

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

*Narrator voice* it was a dark and stormy evening. On the brink of elimination, the Flames trekked home to Calgary for game 5 of this first round series. Tensions are high, livelihoods…

Okay, is that too much drama? Too theatric? Fine. Game 5 was tonight and the Flames were back at home looking to not get eliminated. Is that better? Let’s just get to the recap.

The Flames won the opening faceoff and immediately got to work, looking to grab a bit of momentum. The new second line with Matthew Tkachuk, Mikael Backlund, and Elias Lindholm got themselves a bit of zone time but couldn’t put together anything in the way of a very dangerous chance. But, not matter, the next shift saw the new top line (now with 100 percent more Sam Bennett) got to work in the offensive zone themselves, coming up with the first nice chance of the game, but couldn’t seem to get it past Phillipp Grubauer. But hey, at least they had some energy.

And if now’s when we’re supposed to keep you up to date on the Big Happenings though the middle of the period, well, we don’t have a whole lot to report. We were running and gunning, with each side flexing a bit of speed and ease in transition, but still less in the high danger chances department. Nathan MacKinnon had a good chance stopped by Mike Smith, and then Juuso Valimaki got a look on the other side. There you have it.

The Flames got their first proper shot on goal of the period just inside the seven minute mark, as the second line again got to work in the offensive zone, working the cycle and generating a bit of pressure. Lindholm parked himself in front of the net and nearly picked up a deflection goal off of his skate, but no go, and the puck was juggled around and kicked back out to the high slot for Backlund, who sent a laser in on goal, but had himself robbed by Grubauer.

Were we starting to feel like the Flames were building a bit of momentum? That’s too bad, because we should know what’s coming because of that. Backlund turned the puck over in the neutral zone and got the Avalanche moving back into the offensive zone. There, Tyson Barrie put a shot on goal from the center point, and Gabriel Landeskog, battling with Lindholm in front, was in position to deflect that shot in. That’s a one-goal lead for the Avalanche, gang. Sigh.

But it’s not all bad news! The Flames responded with some more energy and they were rewarded with a couple more looks, and then they were given a chance at the ultimate look! Gaudreau had some space to work with on the breakaway, and couldn’t do anything with it, but he did draw a penalty. And, oh would you look at that! He’s been awarded a penalty shot!

And did he score?!

Nope. Grubauer stood his ground and would not be faked. And Gaudreau just ran out of real estate.

And it keeps getting worse. Gaudreau was able to get himself another breakaway mere minutes later, and he failed to convert again. And then the puck ended up back in Calgary’s end, and a brutal defensive breakdown that saw all five Flames caught on one side of the ice and Cale Makar all alone on the other side of the ice. He got the puck and his shot didn’t get through, but it did open up a rebound for Mikko Rantanen. That’s another Avalanche goal.

We started drafting our last paragraph with about 30 seconds left in the period, wanting to say there wasn’t much happening and we were just hoping to make it to the first intermission only down two but not so fast! Inside the last ten seconds of the period, the Flames chipped the puck into the offensive zone and guess what gang, the Flames got a break. T.J. Brodie was in position to chip the puck in, beating Grubauer right over his shoulder. And the energy was back.

AFTER ONE: Avalanche 2 – Flames 1

it’s a brand new period and a trend is emerging: this second line is doing some work. They got themselves a bit more zone time inside the first two minutes of the period, and were able to generate another couple of looks, but again couldn’t close. We like the energy, but also please score some hockey goals, friends.

oh, you want a hockey goal? Well here’s a chance for one. Landeskog was whistled for hooking and the Flames got themselves their first power play of the evening. It took them a bit of time to get themselves set up, but when they did, they started looking dangerous. Both Monahan and Lindholm were robbed point blank and the chances were there, but again they couldn’t solve Grubauer.

The power play expired and the Avalanche came back with a bit of jump. The MacKinnon line was sent out and they got to doing what they do. After three nice chances, the Flames almost cleared the puck and then didn’t. instead they turned it over a couple of times before it made its way to Colin Wilson, who beat Smith to restore the Avalanche’s two goal lead.

The Flames were able to keep the energy up, and we could talk about how those chances were happening and they were good but we’re going to jump ahead and talk about how Gaudreau cannot catch a dang break. One of those chances came from crashing the net and looking to create a bit of chaos. Gaudreau was able to knock one in on a wraparound but evidently it came along with too much chaos, as the officials ruled there was incidental contact with the goaltender when Bennett pushed a defender into Grubauer, and the goal was waved off.

They were able to keep up some energy, but things would start to swing the Avalanche’s way, and they got themselves a chance of their own on the power play, as Matthew Tkachuk interfered with MacKinnon and was sent off. The Avalanche had some trouble connecting in the first bit of the attempt, but the Flames couldn’t hold them off completely. MacKinnon’s shot-pass got through to Wilson in front who was in position for the tip, and he picked up his second of the night.

We’re going to keep on talking power plays, because the Flames picked up their second of the evening with 2:13 to go in the second after Gaudreau was high sticked. There wasn’t much going on on that power play, though. Tkachuck got a look but otherwise the Flames couldn’t get anything on net. And to make things worse, their power play time was cut short when Bennett was called for hooking. The Flames were able to generate a bit of pressure in the abbreviated 4-on-4, but again nothing to show on the scoresheet. Intermission time.

AFTER TWO: Avalanche 4, Flames 1

With about a minute and a half of leftover power play time for the Avalanche, the Flames had to get right to work to start the period. And, uh, they certainly tried. It didn’t really work though. The Avalanche were able to get set up and a cross-slot pass got Smith moving, and the shot from Rantanen just beat Smith.

And it looks like the wheels are off. Brodie crosschecked Wilson right into the net and the Flames were right back to the penalty kill. It was an abbreviated look, as after the Avalanche did a bit of puck moving, MacKinnon interfered with Garnett Hathaway and took a penalty, and also sent Hathaway off to the dressing room. It’s getting wild.

Long story short: the Flames got a couple of looks at 4-on-4 and had one chance on the very brief power play. But zero goals.

And we’re back to running and gunning and again there wasn’t much major to update you all on until a major collision at center ice saw Lindholm laboring and heading off for the dressing room as well. Such would end his night early.

On the other side of a tv timeout, the Avalanche got themselves a bit of puck possession, and while collecting the puck in their own end and looking to get moving with it, drew a cross-checking penalty from Michael Frolik. We didn’t see a ton of urgency from the Avalanche on this power play, but maybe this isn’t too surprising, given the state of the game at that point. Under four minutes to go with a four goal lead. You get it.

But they would be given more chances, still, as with just about 30 seconds left on the Frolik penalty, Hathaway was whistled for slashing, giving the Avalanche a bit of 5-on-3 time before continuing the 5-on-4. It was more of the same, some puck shuffling and not a lot of pressure, and just like that, the penalty killed itself.

With 30 seconds to go, the players just sort of skated the puck around, and then the buzzer sound, and it was all over. Handshakes to be had, and that’s the end of the season.

We don’t have a whole lot of words right now, we’re just as shocked as you are. But here we are, all the same. And we thank you all for spending this season hanging out with us.

FINAL: Avalanche 5, Flames 1