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PLAYOFF RUN ENDS

Brodie scores lone goal as Flames fall in Game 5

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick / CalgaryFlames.com

They certainly had their chances.

Plenty of 'em.

Twenty-nine shots, the Grade A's and the breakaways, in one last effort to save the season.

Trouble is, the Colorado Avalanche had theirs, too - and they buried.

The Flames didn't.

A theme that had played out painfully in three of the first four games of the series put a cap on it in Game 5 Friday at the Scotiabank Saddledome, as the Avs' top guns took over and led the visitors to a 5-1 win to advance to the Second Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

T.J. Brodie scored the Flames' lone goal, while Mike Smith made 27 stops.

 

Video: CGY Recap: Season ends with 5-1 loss in Game 5

 

"It's a hard season to get in the playoffs for one, and it's so competitive and once you're in there, anything can happen," said Smith - the Flames' best player with a playoff-leading 205 shots faced in five games.

He finished with a .917 save percentage.

"I didn't think we played our best consistently in this series and you have to be your best if you want to move on," the puck-stopper added. "You can't move on just being average.

"They were the better team and they deserve some credit. They snuffed us out offensively and did a good job to shut down our top guys. You've always got to remember that there's two teams on the ice, so you've got to give them a lot of credit in that way that they contained us."

With their season on the line, the Flames had jump early but didn't register their first shot - courtesy of Mikael Backlund from the left dot - until nearly eight minutes in.

The Avalanche opened the scoring at 9:39 of the first, the result of a turnover on what has been a sore spot for the Flames in these playoffs - the breakout. Nathan MacKinnon brought it into the zone, and while Brodie did some fine work to keep the Colorado superstar to the outside, MacKinnon put it back to the point for Tyson Barrie, who sifted a shot through traffic and had it tipped home by Gabriel Landeskog.

MacKinnon finished with three assists. He, Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen combined for 21 points in the series.

 

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"For anyone who doesn't think MacKinnon is one of the best, if not the best players, might want to look at his series," Giordano said. "He can really turn it up to another level and really took control. Tough player to play against. He really took control and led their team."

The Flames pushed back - and Johnny Gaudreau had not one, not two, but three breakaway chances in only a minute-and-a-half of playing time late in the frame as he chased down the equalizer.

The first resulted in a penalty shot, but after his working his way in slowly and making a quick move to the backhand, Avs goalie Phillip Grubauer stuck out the paddle and disrupted the shot just enough to nullify the chance in tight.

The third was of the clear-cut variety, and with all kinds of time to plan the attack, No. 13 elected to shoot, tickling the blocker and having the puck smash off the end boards.

Sixteen seconds later, it was in the back of the Calgary net.

 

Video: "We started to press a little bit and it didn't work"


 
Rantanen grabbed a loose puck behind the net and - with Smith recovering from a circus-like save moments earlier - he banked it off the back of his pad and in to collect his series-leading fourth goal.

"I had a ton of chances tonight," said Gaudreau, who had his finest game of the series with four shots and had a goal disallowed on a questionable goalie interference call midway through the second.

"We were in their zone for most of the game, our line," he added of the frustration he was feeling. "Didn't find the net when I should have throughout the series."

While the two-goal deficit briefly silenced the masses, the building roared back to life with 5.5 seconds left in the stanza when a pinching Brodie spun and fired from the bottom of the right circle, pulling the homeside within one.

Sam Bennett - promoted to the top line for this must-win matchup - picked up the assist with a beautiful, between-the-legs pass on the backhand.

 

Video: COL@CGY, Gm5: Brodie wires home wrister from circle

 

The Flames took over the game in the second, but shortly after an early powerplay expired, the tired troupe had trouble getting the puck out of their zone, and the visitors made them pay.

Colin Wilson buried on the eventual give-and-go with Rantanen, restoring the Avs' two-goal cushion at 6:51.

"It just got away from us," said head coach Bill Peters. "No different than Game 3. Then when it got away from us a little bit, the frustration grew."

A powerplay goal at 14:47 made it a 4-1 game, as the Avs displayed some nice puck movement, resulting in Wilson getting his second of the night off a great pass by MacKinnon.

Rantanen powered home a PPG just 57 seconds into the third to round out the scoring.

"We wasted a good opportunity here," said Matthew Tkachuk. "We don't know if guys will be back or... you just don't know. And we had such a great group in here. No team ever has the same guys the next year. It feels that we wasted a great opportunity with this group, but this is a group I wanted to win for, we all wanted to win for.

"It's going to be a long summer."

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