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Postgame Wrap-Up: Avs Douse Flames in Five

Colorado advances to second round of playoffs for first time since 2008

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab / ColoradoAvalanche.com

The Colorado Avalanche entered the postseason as one of the hottest teams in the league and is the first club from the Western Conference to advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Colorado defeated the Calgary Flames 5-1 on Friday night in Game 5 of their first-round series at Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta.

After dropping the first contest, the Avs won four straight games to close out the best-of-seven set. The team went on an 8-0-2 run down the stretch to clinch the final playoff spot in the West.

"I love that our guys are getting rewarded for all their hard work and dedication and their commitment, and that is what you want to see as a coach," said Avalanche bench boss Jared Bednar. "It feels really good to move on and take on somebody else and keep this thing going."

Colorado advances to the second playoff round for the first time since 2008 when it defeated the Minnesota Wild in six games in the Western Conference Quarterfinals.

Tyson Barrie (three assists), Nathan MacKinnon (three assists), Mikko Rantanen (two goals, one assist) and Colin Wilson (two goals, one assist) all recorded three-point outings in Game 5 against the Flames. It is the first time in franchise history that the organization had four players record three points in a series-clinching game.

Video: Nathan MacKinnon on the Round 1 win

The Avalanche was the eighth seed in the Western Conference and was facing a club that had a 50-25-7 record and 107 points during the regular season, the second most in the league. With the Columbus Blue Jackets' four-game sweep of the Presidents' Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning in the East, it marked the first time in NHL history that the No. 8-seeded teams in each conference eliminated the top seed in the first round.

"The resiliency we have on our team, the fight that we have when we're down, huge," said goaltender Philipp Grubauer, who made 28-of-29 saves. "Guys stepping up in the right moment, scoring goals, getting blocks, getting saves at the right time. It all combines into a great performance."

Calgary won each of the three games of the regular-season series, but two of the games were decided by one goal and one needed overtime to decide a winner.

"I think it speaks to the parity in this league," said veteran defenseman Ian Cole, a two-time Stanley Cup champion. "We felt pretty confident coming into this series that we could get the job done. We didn't have success record-wise against them during the season, but we felt good about our games and we felt good about the matchup and personnel-wise. Like you saw out there, I think we did a good job with it. I think everyone is happy and ready to turn the page after tonight and get back to it."

Much like the Avalanche did in its 6-2 victory in Game 3, the team had a strong first period. Colorado scored the first two goals and then added two more in the second period to extend its advantage.

"People say that it is hard to close out the series, especially when it is 3-1. I think it was a great team effort again," Rantanen said. "We got an early lead right away and then we finished it off."

Video: Bednar after the first-round win against Calgary

The Avs are now 10-2 in best-of-seven series when having a 3-1 advantage after four games. They improved to 7-5 in Game 5's when leading 3-1.

Colorado will play the winner of the San Jose Sharks-Vegas Golden Knights series in the next round, with the Round 2 schedule being announced at a later date. Vegas presently owns a 3-2 lead in the series and hosts Game 6 on Sunday.

For the Avs, they aren't done yet in their pursuit of a championship. Their mindset is to keep doing damage in the Stanley Cup tournament, no matter the opponent.

"We're all happy, don't get me wrong, we're happy, but it's one round and you have to win four," Bednar said. "That is our mindset. We're not getting satisfied. That is our team's mindset this year. We're going to push and do everything we can to win."

 

RANTANEN ROLLING: Mikko Rantanen recorded two goals and an assist for his fourth straight postseason contest with multiple points, one shy of the franchise record.

The mark was originally set by Peter Stastny with the Quebec Nordiques in 1982 and matched three times by Peter Forsberg in 1997, 1999 and 2002.

The right wing's first marker ended up as the game-winner as he banked the puck off Calgary goaltender Mike Smith from below the goal line to give Colorado a 2-0 lead in the first period. His second tally was a one-timer on the power player early in the third period that secured the Avs' fate to Round 2 and the Flames' start of the offseason.

Rantanen has nine points in the last four games (four goals, five assists) after being held scoreless in the first game of the postseason. He missed the final eight regular-season games with an upper-body injury.

"It's not fun to be hurt, but you have to find some positive things and maybe one thing is that I got rest and felt good coming back," Rantanen said. "Like I said before, the medical team did a great job in getting me ready to play in this series. I have to say a great team effort in all five games."

 

PLAYOFF WILLY: During his time with the Nashville Predators, Colin Wilson earned a reputation of coming up big in moments during the postseason, earning the nickname "Playoff Willy."

He lived up to that moniker in the second period for the Colorado Avalanche. After adding an assist in the opening frame, Wilson tallied twice in the middle stanza to extend the Avs' lead to 4-1 and put away the Calgary Flames.

It was Wilson's second career three-point game and second career multi-goal game in his postseason career. He last scored recorded multiple points with a goal and two assists with Nashville on May 5, 2016 versus San Jose (Game 4, Western Conference Round 2) and last tallied twice on April 15, 2015 against Chicago (Game 1, Western Conference Round 1).

He has 29 points (15 goals, 14 assists) in eight Stanley Cup Playoff campaigns.

 

MAKAR HOMECOMING: Rookie defenseman Cale Makar played in his first-ever NHL game in his hometown of Calgary and played a part in eliminating the club he cheered for growing up.

"It's a little bit weird at the start," he said. "I think even coming into today, I haven't been on this ice for quite a long time. Just all the friends that reached out to me and kind of told me the team that they were cheering for and stuff. It's a weird feeling and I'm glad that it's over now."

Makar had an assist on Rantanen's first-period goal to extend Colorado's lead to 2-0. He finished with a plus-2 rating while also adding five takeaways and three blocked shots.

The Calgary native signed his entry-level contract with the Avalanche on Sunday after completing his college career, which included winning the Hobey Baker Award as NCAA's hockey's top player. He made his NHL debut in Game 3 against the Flames on Monday and scored on his first shot on goal.

Video: Cale Makar after the Game 5 victory in Calgary

 

MORE POSTGAME NOTES: Nathan MacKinnon registered three points (3a) and now has 24 points (8g/16a) in 18 career postseason contests, the highest points-per-game average (1.33) among active players and the fifth-highest in Stanley Cup Playoff history among players with at least 10 points.

Calgary forward Johnny Gaudreau's penalty shot in the first period was the first postseason penalty shot against in Avalanche/Nordiques franchise history.

Tyson Barrie recorded a postseason career-high three points (3a), surpassing his previous high of two (2x - last: April 14, 2018 at Nashville).

Philipp Grubauer has posted a 1.90 goals-against average and a .939 save percentage through the first round of the postseason, ranked second and third, respectively, among playoff goaltenders who have played more than one game.

Colorado has scored a power-play goal in each of its last three outings, going 5-for-17 (29.4%) over that span. The Avs have scored multiple power-play goals twice in this series (also: Game 3, April 15, 2019, 2-for-8).

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