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Flames not going to sit back against Avalanche in Game 3

Calgary learned lesson after Colorado rallied to even Western series

by Aaron Vickers / Correspondent

CALGARY -- The Calgary Flames know they need to play with a greater sense of urgency against the Colorado Avalanche in Game 3 of the Western Conference First Round at Pepsi Center on Monday (10 p.m. ET; CNBC, CBC, TVAS2, ALT). 

The Avalanche tied the series 1-1 after rallying for a 3-2 overtime win in Game 2 in Calgary on Saturday.

"I think we learned a little bit of a lesson last night," Flames forward Sam Bennett said. "We're not going to be sitting back anymore, I can tell you that for sure. Everyone wasn't happy with the performance. 

"We're going to be a lot better."


[RELATED: Complete Flames vs. Avalanche series coverage]


Colorado outshot Calgary 39-37 in Game 2 and held an 84-61 advantage in shot attempts. Twelve of those attempts came from Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, whose last shot beat Flames goalie Mike Smith glove side at 8:27 of overtime.

"I felt that maybe they were a little more desperate, a little more hungry than the first game," Flames center Mikael Backlund said. "I don't think we played as good, either as a line or as a team. I felt they had a little more bite in the game than in the first.

"They're very good players, really skilled, good skaters, just like we saw [in MacKinnon's] last goal last night. He can really turn the jets on. Just got to make sure you're on top of him."

Video: Reaction to MacKinnon's OT winner for the Avalanche

MacKinnon led Colorado in a number of categories in the regular season, including goals (41), assists (58) and points (99), as well as power-play points (37), shots (365) and plus/minus (+20).

He has 17 points (six goals 11 assists) in 15 Stanley Cup Playoff games, and his 1.13 points per game is tied for third among active players who have played at least 10 playoff games, behind David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins (1.25) and Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers (1.23).

"He's a world-class player," Bennett said. "His speed … he's one of the fastest guys in the League. We know how good he is. We know what he's capable of. Sometimes you just have to tip your hat. We're definitely aware of his talent."

In Calgary for the first two games of the series, the Flames matched the line of Backlund, Matthew Tkachuk and Michael Frolik primarily against MacKinnon.

But with the series shifting to Colorado, Avalanche coach Jared Bednar will have the luxury of last change to further free up MacKinnon.

"There's no matchups going on the road," Flames coach Bill Peters said. "Even last night there wasn't really a hard matchup. What happens is they spend a lot of time in the offensive zone. It's easy to play in the offensive zone. Much harder in the D-zone. Heavier lifting, harder work. We've got to make sure if they're going to play big minutes, they're going to spend some time in their own zone.

"When you're done playing offense, you've got to be in good position ... don't be open and vulnerable to counterattacks, and we were a little bit at times last night."

MacKinnon's overtime goal came on the counterattack moments after Avalanche goalie Philipp Grubauer stopped Frolik from in close.

Calgary is hoping to limit those opportunities and take back home ice with a win in Game 3.

"We didn't expect to win every game," Backlund said. "We want to win every game, but we know it's a tough task. We knew there would eventually probably be a loss.

"It's critical, but it's tough. You get pretty pumped up when you win the first game and last night was real disappointing. New day today and new day tomorrow. We're back at even. … We're just going to have to go from there."


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