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Flames will play Avalanche in Western Conference First Round

Calgary has home-ice advantage; teams have never met in playoffs

by David Satriano @davidsatriano / Staff Writer

The Calgary Flames will play the Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Calgary (50-25-7) finished first in the Pacific Division and have home-ice advantage in each Western Conference best-of-7 series it plays. Colorado (38-30-14), fifth in the Central Division, finished as the second wild card from the West.

The Flames went 3-0-0 against the Avalanche this season, outscoring them 14-10. Mark Giordano had seven points (one goal, six assists) and Elias Lindholm scored in each of the three games. David Rittich went 2-0-0 allowing five goals on 61 shots, and Mike Smith allowed five goals on 26 shots in a 6-5 win Nov. 1.

"We are happy with our group but we know it is going to ramp up in the next week, week and a half," Giordano said this week. "We've been pretty consistent all year. Our style of play and our details is what helps us every night. We have a lot of depth."

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Gabriel Landeskog led Colorado with four points (one goal, three assists) and Nathan MacKinnon scored two goals against Calgary. Semyon Varlamov was 0-2-1 with a 4.44 goals-against average and an .860 save percentage.

"Whoever we play, we'll have 3-4 days to get ready and focus for them and do our research," MacKinnon said after the Avalanche clinched their playoff berth Thursday. "We don't play the Pacific Division, so it will be a little bit of a change, but whoever we play, we are confident."

The Avalanche and Flames have never met in the playoffs.

Colorado has made the playoffs the past two seasons but hasn't advanced past the first round since 2008. It won the Stanley Cup in 1996 and 2001.

Calgary did not make the playoffs last season; it was swept by the Anaheim Ducks in the first round in 2017. The last time the Flames were first in the Western Conference was 1988-89, when they won the Stanley Cup.

"This doesn't come around every year," Smith said. "It's hard to get to the very top, and the Western Conference is a tough, tough conference. ... We're not taking it lightly, we know what's ahead. We know there's a bigger end goal, but this is special and you won't forget this as long as you live."

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