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The Colorado Avalanche entered tonight’s game against the Calgary Flames feeling good with a 3-1 start to the season and returning from Buffalo after a 6-1 pasting of the Sabres two nights ago.
A Nathan MacKinnon goal 11 seconds into the game only pushed their confidence higher. J.T. Compher took advantage of a bouncing puck and slithered in to make it 2-0 just 2:40 into the game.
Colorado took their two-goal lead and continued pouring on the pressure against Flames backup goaltender David Rittich and came within inches of increasing their lead multiple times. Their failure to do so, however, proved fatal on what was a beautiful Colorado day to start.
By the end of the night, however, a classic Colorado snowstorm had pushed into downtown Denver and the only ones keeping warm were a buzzing Flames team and overworked Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov.
Calgary head coach Bill Peters called timeout after the Avalanche had made it 2-0 and tried to get his team back on track. It took until the second period for the message to really get through but when it did, the Flames never looked back.
Sam Bennett was able to bang home a rebound at 10:52 of the second period to bring the game to a 2-1 score and the shell-shocked Avalanche never responded. The only Av who seemed even awake was Varlamov, who made save after save to preserve Colorado’s lead heading into the third period.
The third period was more of the same for Calgary as they followed up their 17-6 shot advantage in the second with a 12-3 advantage in the third. It took until 18:06 for the Flames to tie it but Elias Lindholm beat Varlamov and the already-lethargic Avalanche lost any and all remaining energy.
The overtime period saw Colorado run out an odd lineup of two defensemen (Erik Johnson and Tyson Barrie) and Nathan MacKinnon but the trio was unable to generate any offense and a Johnny Gaudreau breakaway goal just 46 seconds into the extra frame ended Colorado’s misery on the night and completed the comeback and brought the game to its final score of 3-2.
Following the game, Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar stressed Colorado’s biggest problem was they completely stopped skating after the first period, adding “You can’t check with your eyes.”
Bednar was very complimentary of his goaltender but was clearly displeased with the rest of the effort from his team, admitting they were lucky to get even a single point in the standings given the way they played.
Tale of two games
I could write 2,000 words on what a fiasco this ended up being for the Avalanche but why do that when a couple of already-made graphs and charts can better depict the carnage?