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game recap

Flames' Rittich defeats Avalanche for first NHL win

Makes 24 saves; Backlund scores, gets assist for Calgary

by Rick Sadowski / Correspondent

DENVER -- Calgary Flames rookie goalie David Rittich made 24 saves for his first NHL win, 3-2 against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on Saturday.

Dougie Hamilton, Micheal Ferland and Mikael Backlund scored for the Flames (13-9-1), who went 3-2-1 on a six-game, 11-day road trip.

"I feel good about the win," said Rittich, who was called up Friday from Stockton of the American Hockey League. "The guys played unbelievably. They blocked every single shot. It was good for me.


[WATCH: All Flames vs. Avalanche highlights]


"I think it was a good game. Guys were all excited. Guys played well and helped me and allowed only one shot at times. I felt great and I don't think I could say more."

The Flames presented Rittich with the cowboy hat that goes to their player of the game.

"It was nice for him," coach Glen Gulutzan said. "He's a Czech guy, so I don't know if he's had a cowboy hat on before. He looked pretty good. It's just great energy to see him so excited."

Video: CGY@COL: Zadorov rips home shot from the blue line

Nikita Zadorov and Mikko Rantanen scored for the Avalanche (11-9-2), who had gone three consecutive games with a point (2-0-1). They scored three or more goals in each of their nine home games this season.

"We just weren't committed and willing to play the right way tonight in order to get the job done," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. "Especially when you don't have your legs it makes it more important that you have to do the right things with and without the puck. We had half our guys doing that and some of the other guys went off on their own. What it turns into is sloppy hockey and turnovers all over the place and scoring chances against."

Ferland and Backlund scored 22 seconds apart in the final minute of the second period to give the Flames a 3-1 lead.

Video: CGY@COL: Flames strike twice in final minute of 2nd

Ferland broke a 1-1 tie at 19:09 off a pass from Sean Monahan. Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard's clearing attempt hit Rantanen's stick, Monahan gained possession and passed to Ferland for his 10th goal.

Backlund scored his sixth goal, and 100th in the NHL, at 19:31 when he converted the rebound of Travis Hamonic's shot, beating goalie Jonathan Bernier to the stick side.

"It's cool," Backlund said. "It's a big milestone for me going through some tough and great times too here in Calgary. It's been a rollercoaster ride. I'm very happy I reached it, and it's my dad's birthday as well."

The Avalanche closed to 3-2 when Zadorov scored his second goal of the season with 2:54 left in the third period.

The Avalanche had tied the game 1-1 on Rantanen's power-play goal at 14:32 of the second when his shot from the left circle beat Rittich to the glove side for his seventh goal.

Video: CGY@COL: Rantanen ties the game with power-play goal

"We scratched and clawed back into that game," Bednar said. "Then we have a couple shifts back to back where we're coughing up pucks in the middle of the ice, and that's a team that's going to make you pay."

Hamilton gave the Flames a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal at 17:23 of the first period, his third goal and first in eight games.

Both teams played Friday. The Flames lost 6-4 at the Dallas Stars, and the Avalanche lost 3-2 in a shootout at the Minnesota Wild.

"I thought we should have had the advantage," said Bernier, who had 25 saves. "We were in bed pretty early last night. They were still playing when we got home. They're a good team, but we could have been a little more hungry tonight."


Goal of the game

Backlund's goal at 19:31 of the second period.

Video: CGY@COL: Backlund pots rebound for 100th NHL goal


Save of the game

Rittich stopped Carl Soderberg at 13:53 of the third period.

Video: CGY@COL: Rittich gets across and rejects Soderberg


Highlight of the game

Monahan sets up Ferland's goal at 19:09 of the second period.

Video: CGY@COL: Ferland goes upstairs and beats Bernier


They said it

"Very happy for him. He played well tonight, showed a lot of poise, was calm in net. He didn't look too nervous out there." -- Flames forward Mikael Backlund on goalie David Rittich


"It's never easy back-to-back with the travel. [Colorado] is a team that's probably as good on the rush as we have seen this season. I don't know how many guys can skate 100 miles per hour over there. I thought we did a pretty good job limiting their opportunities." -- Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic


"Give a little credit, they played a pretty solid game defensively. It was a tough game all around. We usually have good starts, but they outskated us in the first and that set the tone for the whole game." -- Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen


Need to know

Monahan has 10 points (six goals, four assists) in his past five games ... Ferland has 10 points (seven goals, three assists) in his past 10 games. ... Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon has nine points (one goal, eight assists) in his past three home games.


What's next 

Flames: Host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday (9 p.m. ET; SNW, TSN4, NHL.TV)

Avalanche: Host the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday (9:30 p.m. ET; ALT, TSN3, NHL.TV)

Video: Backlund, Rittich lead Flames to 3-2 win against Avs

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