CALGARY -- The Calgary Flames qualified for the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs in coach Glen Gulutzan's first season after growing pains saw them finish 26th in the NHL standings in 2015-16 with Bob Hartley behind the bench.
But the Flames were unable to get a win in the postseason, swept by the Anaheim Ducks in their Western Conference First Round series after a 3-1 loss in Game 4 on Wednesday.
"I really like our team," forward Sean Monahan said. "I think we have a great team and moving forward it's a huge step. Right now and throughout the summer getting swept in four is going to sting. But coming back next year, this is an exciting team to be on."
Here are 5 reasons the Flames were eliminated:
1. STRUGGLES IN ANAHEIM CONTINUE
The Flames lost Games 1 and 2 at Honda Center in Anaheim, pushing the Ducks' home winning streak against them to 29 consecutive games. The Ducks have won 22 straight in the regular season and seven in a row in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since the Flames won 5-2 there April 25, 2006, in Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals. Losing the first two games put them in an early hole they were unable to get out of.
Video: Breaking down the Ducks vs. Flames series finale
2. NOT ENOUGH BOUNCES
The game-winning goal in Game 2 came when Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf attempted a cross-ice pass to Jakob Silfverberg from the top of the right faceoff circle but it hit Flames forward Lance Bouma's skate and went past goalie Brian Elliott at 15:14 of the third period. The Ducks scored 1:30 into overtime to win in Game 3 when Corey Perry's shot from the boards hit Elliott, deflected off Flames defenseman Michael Stone and bounced into the net.
"You realize how slim the margin is between winning and losing," Flames captain Mark Giordano said. "Some nights it's a bounce. Some nights it's a penalty. Some nights it's little things. In this series we had a little bit of everything."
3. BRIAN ELLIOTT SUBPAR
Elliott was one of the best goaltenders in the NHL after the All-Star break, going 17-6-1 with a 2.24 goals-against average and .924 save percentage in 25 games.
He didn't have that same success during the playoffs. Elliott allowed five goals on 27 shots in Game 3, and was pulled after giving up one goal on three shots 5:38 into the first period of Game 4. He had a 3.89 GAA and .880 save percentage in four postseason games.
"He laid it on the line for us all season," forward Kris Versteeg said. "He's such a good guy and you never want to see anyone go through what he's gone through the last few days as a great person and a goaltender who gave us everything all season. It's [unfortunate] for him."
Video: CGY@ANA, Gm2: Elliott stops Getzlaf on the doorstep
4. JOHNNY GAUDREAU DROUGHT
Gaudreau led the Flames in scoring in the regular season with 61 points (18 goals, 43 assists) in 72 games, but wasn't an offensive threat during the playoffs. He had two points in the series, on power-play assists, and had eight shots on goal.
5. 5-ON-5 PLAY LACKING
The Flames' power play scored six goals in 16 opportunities, but they couldn't compete with the Ducks during 5-on-5 situations. The Flames scored two goals at even strength in the series to the Ducks' 10.
"They're a good hockey team over there," Giordano said. "They find ways to win. They're hard to play against. They're big and skilled. Sometimes you have to tip your hat and I think that's a really good team there we battled with all series. There's a lot to be learned after a series like that. Finding ways to win at this time of year is how you get through."