DENVER (AP) — The Calgary Flames’ strong finish rendered their slow start into an afterthought.
Elias Lindholm scored the tying goal with 1:54 left in regulation and Johnny Gaudreau put in a goal in the first minute of overtime, lifting the Flames to a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night.
Calgary trailed 2-0 on first-period goals by Colorado’s J.T. Compher and Nathan MacKinnon, who scored 11 seconds into the game. But the Flames regrouped after a timeout following the Avalanche’s second goal and a pep talk from their coach, Bill Peters.
“He said that there was plenty of time left and we had to get skating,” Flames defenseman Mark Giordano said. “We weren’t even moving the first few shifts, it felt like. But give them credit. That’s one of the fastest lines I think I’ve played against, that MacKinnon line. I thought as the game went on, we did a really good job. That’s a huge two points for us.”
Before long, Calgary was taking the attack to Colorado and exerting relentless pressure on goalie Semyon Varlamov. Of 41 shots in the game by the Flames, 31 were taken in the second and third periods and OT. The Avalanche, meantime, struggled to penetrate the Calgary zone, getting off only nine of their 26 shots after the first period.
“The last two periods is when we stopped playing offensive hockey. We weren’t playing aggressive hockey, which is the way we can play,” Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog said. “We want to play fast. We see what happens when we play fast. In the first five, 10 minutes of the first period obviously, we were doing pretty good and then we kind of just laid off the gas. All of a sudden, we started making soft plays and it wasn’t good enough.”
Lindholm sent the game into OT by forcing a turnover in the Colorado zone, taking the puck up close and firing it past Varlamov for the equalizer.
Colorado couldn’t stop Gaudreau on a breakaway. He got behind the Avalanche defense and knocked home the game-winner from up close.
“I had kind of a clear breakaway there, tried to fake the shot and come all the way across and found his five-hole,” Gaudreau said.
“I think we played better after the timeout. Everyone knew we needed to be better and coach said there was a lot of time left in the game. We beared down and found a way to win.”
Calgary broke through for its first goal at 10:52 of the second to pull to within 2-1. Varlamov stopped a shot from Mikael Backlund but the puck popped loose in front of the net. Sam Bennett charged through the slot and got his stick on the puck, shoving it into the net for the score.
Colorado broke on top with two quick goals in the first period, the first coming 11 seconds into the game. Landeskog won the game-opening faceoff and sent the puck into the Calgary zone. Mikko Rantanen sent a shot to the net that goalie David Rittich saved but he couldn’t corral the rebound, which found MacKinnon’s stick. MacKinnon wristed the puck into the net for his sixth goal of the season. The goal by MacKinnon equaled the franchise record for most consecutive games (5) with a goal to start a season set by Mats Sundin in 1992-93
J.T. Compher capitalized on a Calgary turnover to score Colorado’s second goal at 2:40 of the first. Defenseman T.J. Brodie lost a puck in the Calgary zone when it bounced over his stick and Compher swept in to carry the puck down the ice before knocking it into the net up high for the score.
NOTES: Calgary’s Garnet Hathaway played in his 100th career game. … MacKinnon has scored a goal in five consecutive games, matching his longest career goal scoring streak. The loss was the first for the Avalanche in three home games this season. … MacKinnon’s goal 11 seconds into the game was the fastest by an Avalanche player to start a game since Antti Laaksonen set the franchise record by scoring eight seconds into a game against Columbus on Feb. 10, 2006.
Flames: Return home to host the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night
Avalanche: Visit the New York Rangers on Tuesday night in the first leg of a four-game road trip.
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