With all the firepower the Colorado Avalanche possess up front, no lead is ever safe.
That became painfully obvious to the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night.
Calgary led 4-0 less than three minutes into the second period, only to allow four unanswered goals before the end of the period and wind up losing 5-4 in a shootout at the Pepsi Center.
Jarome Iginla’s second goal of the game 2:50 into the middle period gave Calgary a four-goal lead and chased goaltender Peter Budaj. He was relieved by Jose Theodore, who helped make the comeback possible by stopping all 17 shots he faced.
“If you look at the goals they scored, they were great goals,” Theodore said. “They were all over us in the first period. But then after that, we really started to put the puck on Kiprusoff. We got a couple of lucky bounces and the guys just battled back. It just shows you how much character the guys in front of me have.”
Either way, it was a rough night for Budaj, as the Flames jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period. Dion Phaneuf broke a scoreless tie 6:54 into the contest, and Marcus Nilson made it a two-goal game just 48 seconds later, when his backhand shot went off Avalanche defenseman John-Michael Liles and squeaked into the net. Iginla increased Calgary’s lead with 1:03 to play in the first when he picked off a Joe Sakic pass and fired a wrist shot past Budaj.
But Iginla’s second goal turned on some kind of switch for the Avalanche, who dominated from that point – even if they did get some help from the Flames, as three of Colorado’s four goals deflected into the net off Calgary players.
Trailing 4-0, Avalanche coach Joel Quenneville was looking for anything that would light a spark for his team. That was one of the reasons he changed goaltenders.
''I wasn't blaming the goalie, but you're down 4-0, you want to do something to change the flow of the game,'' Quenneville said. ''Down 4-0, it was an easy time to make a change.''
Thirteen seconds after the goalie change, Marek Svatos redirected a feed from Ryan Smyth from the left circle past Flames netminder Miika Kiprusoff. Just like that, the Avs found the spark they were looking for.
Smyth was credited with Colorado’s second goal when Calgary defenseman Anders Eriksson accidentally kicked Smyth’s rebound past Kiprusoff at 10:12. Just 2:32 later, Andrew Brunette threw a pass in front that deflected off the skate of Calgary’s Adrian Aucoin and past Kiprusoff, and it was suddenly a one-goal game.
Colorado defenseman Kurt Sauer knotted things with 3:38 remaining in the second when his shot from the point deflected off Eriksson and into the net to make it 4-4. It was Sauer’s first goal of the season and just his fourth in six seasons. The timing couldn’t have been any better for the stay-at-home blueliner.
''We let up and made some critical mistakes,'' Flames coach Mike Keenan said. ''The forwards turned the puck over three times in our end and they wound up in our net.''
After a scoreless third period and overtime, Wojtek Wolski and Smyth scored for Colorado on the Avs’ first two attempts in the shootout. Iginla scored for the Flames, but Theodore stopped Alex Tanguay to give the Avs the win.
“It was a nice win for us,” Smyth said. “It’s important that we don’t lose focus of what our game plan is and structurally we weren’t doing it in the first period. We talked about little things and emotionally getting into it. We found a way to capitalize on a few breaks.”
It was the first time a team rallied from a four-goal deficit to win a game since last Dec. 11, when Pittsburgh trailed Washington 4-0 and won 5-4 in a shootout.
''We had them,'' Iginla said. ''We had them on the ropes and took our foot off the pedal. We picked up our foot and let them back in the game.''
Material from wire services was used in this report.