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Flames seek better effort against Avalanche in Game 4

Look to slow down MacKinnon, spend more time in offensive zone to even series

by Rick Sadowski / NHL.com Correspondent

DENVER -- The Calgary Flames are determined to be at the top of their game against the Colorado Avalanche in Game 4 of the Western Conference First Round at Pepsi Center on Wednesday (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVAS, ALT).

The Flames watched video during a team meeting at their hotel Tuesday, one day after the Avalanche took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series with a 6-2 win. Forward Johnny Gaudreau, who has one assist in the series after leading Calgary in points (99), goals (36) and assists (63) this season, said the film session wasn't pretty.

"Up and down the ice, all over the rink, they outplayed us last night," he said of the Flames, who led the conference with 107 points this season. "We didn't play our game, we know that. It was a good day today. We learned some things here and it will be good. Got to get back to the way we were playing all year. A little wake-up call there. We know where we're at and we're going to be pushing here the next game."

 

[RELATED: Complete Flames vs. Avalanche series coverage]

 

Coach Bill Peters said the film session was productive and he anticipates a much-improved performance Wednesday.

"We went over some things for sure," he said. "Not just last night, but over the three games in the series. There are common themes we need to get corrected. We had a good meeting, guys are in a good frame of mind, (they have) a lot of confidence.

"We didn't play well last night and we're well aware of that. We're surprised we didn't play well, but we're not surprised we got the result we did by the way we played."

Peters said he was considering lineup changes, but it didn't sound like goalie Mike Smith, who made 50 saves Monday, would be among them.

Video: CGY@COL, Gm3: Smith stones Johnson from in tight

"We had a few guys engaged in the game at the right level," Peters said. "He's one of them. He didn't want to come out."

Gaudreau is well aware that he and his linemates, Sean Monahan and Elias Lindholm, may have to produce Wednesday if the Flames are going to even the series. The three have combined for one goal (by Monahan) and three assists (one each) on 23 shots.

"It's not easy," Gaudreau said. "They're doing a good job in the (defensive) zone, one of the points we looked at today. We know what we're going to do tomorrow. It's going to be a big part of our game tomorrow.

"Obviously, I haven't gotten too many looks. They've done a good job defensively. The last game felt like we were in the (defensive) zone most of the game, which was unfortunate. Last game, I think obviously there's frustration, they were beating us to pucks, outplayed us, outworked us. Everyone has to look at their own games and be better."

The Flames also need to slow down Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, who scored in overtime for a 3-2 win in Game 2 and had two power-play goals and an assist in Game 3.

Video: CGY@COL, Gm3: MacKinnon opens scoring with PPG

"You've got to take away the speed," captain Mark Giordano said. "Make him stop whenever you can, especially through the neutral zone. He's one of the best players in the League for a reason. His game is a speed game, and he's been able to get through the neutral zone and get a lot of chances off the rush it feels like. We have to eliminate that for sure."

Giordano said Calgary shouldn't panic about trailing in the series.

"It's a 2-1 series, we win (Wednesday) and we go back (home), best-of-3 with two home games," the defenseman said. "If you look at it that way, it's a positive. We have to put in the work and get the win.

"Right now, they're feeling good about themselves and they're playing with a lot of confidence. There's no reason for us to be playing with any sort of fear of failure. Let's go out and have fun and play with confidence and be excited to get the win and not (be) on our heels."

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