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5 Keys: Avalanche at Flames, Game 2

Colorado looks to solve Smith; Calgary counting on depth

by Aaron Vickers / Correspondent


10:30 p.m. ET; NBSCN, CBC, TVAS, SN, ALT 

Calgary leads best-of-7 series 1-0

The Calgary Flames will try to add to their series lead in the Western Conference First Round when they host the Colorado Avalanche in Game 2 at Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday.

Teams that win the first two games of a best-of-7 Stanley Cup Playoffs series have a series record of 318-50 (86.4 percent), including 241-30 when those wins are at home (88.9 percent).


[RELATED: Complete Flames vs. Avalanche series coverage]


"We want to come out with a lot of desperation, a lot of energy," Flames captain Mark Giordano said. "This is a great opportunity for us. We want to play with a lot of energy and emotion."

The Flames, who won 4-0 in Game 1, are 8-0-1 in the past nine home games against the Avalanche (including playoffs). Colorado has not won at Calgary in regulation since Dec. 6, 2013 (3-2). 

Here are 5 keys for Game 2:


1. Solving Smith

Mike Smith made 26 saves for his fourth NHL playoff shutout and first since Game 4 of the Western Conference Final against the Los Angeles Kings on May 20, 2012. Smith, whose .898 save percentage ranked 37th of 41 NHL goalies with 35 or more games played this season, leads the League dating to 1955-56 with a .947 save percentage in the playoffs (among goalies with at least 10 games). 

"I think if we make the exact same plays we'll get a couple. Smith had a great game," Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon said. "We expect him to have another really great game tonight. He's a great goalie. But I feel like if we get those same looks we're going to bury a couple more."

Video: COL@CGY, Gm1: Smith makes 26 saves to shut out Avs


2. More from top players

Colorado's top three scorers -- MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog -- did not have a point in Game 1, but combined for nine shots on goal. MacKinnon led the Avalanche with 99 points (41 goals, 58 assists), Rantanen was second with 87 points (31 goals, 56 assists), and Landeskog third with 75 points (34 goals, 41 assists) in the regular season, accounting for 41.1 percent of the goals by the Avalanche (106 of 258) and factoring in on 54.7 percent (141 of 258).


3. Depth scoring 

The Avalanche were effective in limiting the Flames' top line of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Elias Lindholm. Lindholm was the only one with a point, a secondary assist on Matthew Tkachuk's power-play goal at 18:58 of the second period. But Andrew Mangiapane, a rookie fourth-liner, provided what was the eventual game-winner, and Garnet Hathaway, his linemate, drew the penalty that allowed for the first of Tkachuk's two goals. Eight Flames players had at least one point in the game, including Smith.

"It's massive," said Flames forward Sam Bennett, who had an assist. "You're not going to win too many games without all lines contributing. It's huge for all of our lines to be going tonight."

Video: COL@CGY, Gm1: Mangiapane scores beauty for Flames


4. Special effort

Colorado's power play, sixth-best on the road in the regular season at 23.3 percent, went 0-for-4 in Game 1 including three consecutive power plays in a 9:47 stretch spanning the first and second periods. Calgary's power play scored twice on five attempts, including Mikael Backlund's insurance goal to put the Flames up 3-0 at 17:01 of the third. 

"First period we had two (power plays) early," Rantanen said. "If we score the first goal in the playoffs it's a good thing obviously. That has to be our mindset. If we get an early chance we have to try to capitalize. Its real good momentum for our team."


5. Leading men

Calgary had the best winning percentage in the regular season when scoring first (.878) with a 36-4-1 record. Colorado was 10-24-8 when allowing the first goal, 26th in the League, and had the lowest winning percentage (.238) among playoff teams.  

"The first goal is big, especially in playoffs," Giordano said. "It's a lot of low-scoring games and not really as many scoring chances as in the regular season, but in saying that, either way we score first we have to build off that. If they happen to score, we know we have a team that can find a way to get back."


Avalanche projected lineup

Gabriel Landeskog -- Nathan MacKinnon -- Alexander Kerfoot

Colin Wilson -- Carl Soderberg -- Mikko Rantanen

Matt Nieto -- Derick Brassard -- J.T. Compher

Matt Calvert -- Tyson Jost -- Gabriel Bourque

Samuel Girard -- Erik Johnson

Nikita Zadorov -- Tyson Barrie

Ian Cole -- Patrik Nemeth

Philipp Grubauer

Semyon Varlamov

Scratched: Sven Andrighetto, Mark Barberio, Ryan Graves, Joe Cannata

Injured: None


Flames projected lineup

Johnny Gaudreau -- Sean Monahan -- Elias Lindholm

Matthew Tkachuk -- Mikael Backlund -- Michael Frolik

Sam Bennett -- Mark Jankowski -- James Neal

Andrew Mangiapane -- Derek Ryan -- Garnet Hathaway

Mark Giordano -- TJ Brodie

Noah Hanifin -- Travis Hamonic

Oscar Fantenberg -- Rasmus Andersson

Mike Smith

David Rittich

Scratched: Austin Czarnik, Dillon Dube, Alan Quine, Michael Stone, Juuso Valimaki, Dalton Prout, Oliver Kylington, Jon Gillies

Injured: None


Status update

Rantanen, who played with MacKinnon and Landeskog in the third period of Game 1, is expected to start Game 2 with Soderberg and Wilson. … The Flames aren't expected to make any changes.

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