Sun, Apr 21, 2019 - Page 11 News List

Avalanche move on; Leafs one win away

AP, CALGARY, Alberta

Sean Monahan of the Calgary Flames, left, misses a check on Patrik Nemeth of the Colorado Avalanche in Game 5 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series in Calgary, Alberta, on Friday.

Photo: AFP

After getting shut out in the series opener, the Colorado Avalanche clamped down defensively to shut down the Western Conference-leading Calgary Flames.

The Avalanche are now entering the second round of the playoffs for the first time in 11 years.

Colin Wilson and Mikko Rantanen each had two goals and an assist, as Colorado beat Calgary 5-1 in Game 5 of their first-round series on Friday to eliminate the Flames.

Gabriel Landeskog also scored, while Nathan MacKinnon and Tyson Barrie each had three assists as the Avalanche won a playoff series for the first time since 2008.

Philipp Grubauer stopped 28 shots and a penalty shot by Johnny Gaudreau in the first period.

“It’s awesome to win a round,” MacKinnon said. “It’s been a while for this organization and I, personally, have never won a round so I’m really excited about it.”

T.J. Brodie scored for the Flames, and Mike Smith finished with 27 saves.

Calgary, who finished first in the Western Conference at 50-25-7, were beaten by a team who sprinted the final two weeks of the regular season to capture the West’s last wildcard and then won four straight in this series after losing the opener.

“Obviously we were the big underdogs and no one picked us to win,” MacKinnon said. “I didn’t expect to win it in five, but we believed in this group.”

The Flames’ ouster marked the first time both conferences’ top seeds were eliminated in the first round. East-leading Tampa Bay, who won the Presidents’ Trophy with the league’s best record, were swept by Columbus.

Calgary ranked second in goal-scoring in the regular season behind the Lightning and tied with San Jose, but after opening with a 4-0 victory in Game 1, the Flames did not score more than two goals in any game.

The NHL’s highest-scoring team on home ice this season mustered only one in Game 5.

“Some of the strengths we had during the regular season weren’t strengths in Round 1,” Flames coach Bill Peters said. “I can’t explain it to you why some of those went away. It’ll be interesting as we reflect and look back and try and find some answers.”

Colorado were the more confident team after coming from behind to win the second and fourth games of the series 3-2 in overtime, and decisively beating Calgary 6-2 in Game 3.

The Avalanche beat the Flames to the puck in all three zones and forced Calgary to chase and defend.

MacKinnon was the catalyst in the Avalanche’s superior speed with and without the puck.

“For anyone who doesn’t think MacKinnon is not one of the best if not the best, they might want to look at this series,” Flames captain Mark Giordano said. “He really took control and led their team.”

Gaudreau, Calgary’s top goal scorer, was limited to one assist in the series.

“I had a ton of chances tonight,” Gaudreau said. “I didn’t find the net when I should have a couple times during the series.”

“The season we had we were not expecting to go out in five games obviously in the first round,” Giordano said. “Right now it doesn’t feel good. We had a great season and we couldn’t find a way to get leads in the playoffs and stick to it when we did have the lead.”

LEAFS 2, BRUINS 1

Auston Matthews and Kasperi Kapanen scored third-period goals as the Toronto Maple Leafs held on to beat the Boston Bruins 2-1 for a 3-2 lead in their first-round playoff series.

Matthews broke a scoreless tie in the third and Toronto goaltender Frederik Andersen made 28 saves, including several late, when Boston had pulled their goalie for an extra attacker.

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