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CZECH MATE: RITTICH LEADS FLAMES TO VICTORY

Flames end their road trip with an important 3-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche

by ARI YANOVER @NHLFlames / CalgaryFlames.com

Now that's how you close out a road trip!

Mikael Backlund scored the 100th goal of his NHL career, and David Rittich picked up his first win in his first start, as the Flames defeated the Avalanche, 3-2, in the final match of their six-game road trip.

"Nerves of steel," Travis Hamonic said of Rittich following the game. "It's neat to see these young guys come in and play that well. He came in right from the start, he got tested really early on, and played with a ton of confidence. It was nice to see."

Rittich confirmed he wasn't nervous.

"I think it was a good game," he said. "Guys played very well, they helped me."

Dougie Hamilton and Micheal Ferland also scored for the Flames. Rittich stopped 24 of 26 shots over the course of his big night.

"I thought he played well," coach Glen Gulutzan said of Rittich's performance. "He made some key saves when we needed them. When you see a guy that's that excited and such a good guy, it's certainly a nice feeling to play well in front of him and get him a win in the NHL. That's a big thing."

Mikko Rantanen and Nikita Zadorov scored for the Colorado Avalanche, while Jonathan Bernier made 25 saves on 28 shots.

Hamilton drew first blood, with the powerplay continuing to pay dividends for the Flames. Gabriel Landeskog went to the box for crosschecking Matthew Tkachuk, allowing Tkachuk to set Hamilton up with a cross-ice pass. Hamilton made no mistake, snapping it off of the post, ping, short-side, and in to give the Flames the first goal of the game.

The Avalanche responded with a powerplay goal of their own, with Matt Bartkowski sitting in the box for a delay of game call. Landeskog's screen gave Rittich no chance to see the puck as Rantanen's shot beat him far-side, tying the game.

But not for long. With just 51 seconds to go in the second period, Ferland - who had already been foiled by a post earlier in the game - took a pass from Sean Monahan and shot the puck high, short-side. The puck hit the crossbar and went in, restoring the lead for the Flames (and earning Ferland a little smooch on the helmet from Monahan).

Just 22 seconds later, Backlund added to the lead with the 100th goal of his NHL career. Travis Hamonic's shot bounced right to Backlund, and the Swede made no mistake in immediately firing the puck over a sprawling Bernier for the milestone goal.

"It's cool," Backlund said. "It's a big milestone for me."

Backlund also mentioned he scored the goal on his dad's birthday.

"Lot of tears, probably?" Backlund said when asked to guess how his father reacted. "He's an emotional guy.

"That's why I'm so emotional, too. I just remember growing up, looking up, and just seeing, if I scored or something, he'd always be a little teared up."

Video: Ryan Leslie on tonight's big win over the Avalanche

Gulutzan was happy to see Backlund score his 100th goal.

"We were hoping he was going to get it sooner or later," he said. "We knew he was at 99 before we were putting together a little package for him, but just such a good two-way player. It was a big goal for us, and you know, he's just one of those players that coaches like because they play such a 200-foot game. And he's got skill, and we're pretty happy for him."

Late in the third period, Zadorov took a seeing eye shot from the blue line. The puck found its way through the zone, past Rittich short-side, and in, to cut the Flames' lead to one.

"I think I should be better with the screen," Rittich said. "Like, these two goals, I want to try to find the puck and catch it."

The Flames couldn't quite get the empty net goal to seal the win, but it didn't matter in the end, as they bested Colorado to finish their road trip with a 3-2-1 record.

"It was a little up and down trip for us," Backlund. said. "It was a big win for us tonight, though. We battled hard. Makes the flight home a lot more fun and more relaxed than if it would have been another loss, so it was a big win for us tonight.

"Pretty decent trip, yeah, and we're excited to go home now."

ONE-TIMERS: Backlund is the 50th Swedish player to score 100 NHL goals … Rittich became the 12th Czech goalie to pick up a win in the NHL … Hamilton's goal was the 50th of his career … Even though Johnny Gaudreau was held pointless - despite plenty of chances - for only the fifth time this season, he's still tied with Nikita Kucherov for second in NHL scoring.

NEXT UP: At long last, two weeks later, the Flames return to the Scotiabank Saddledome. They'll host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday (7 p.m. MT), and then the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday (7 p.m. MT) to close out November.

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