The Colorado Avalanche burn the Calgary Flames in Overtime of Game 4

After Game 4, the Colorado Avalanche have taken a 3-1 series lead over the Calgary Flames.

Game Summary

First period highlights

The first period of action begins with some good end to end action. The Calgary Flames new look back-end featured Juuso Valimaki making his first appearance in the post season. The old reliable pairing of TJ Brodie and Mark Giordano we’re back together as well in an effort to slow down the top line of the Colorado Avalanche.

The rough stuff from the previous game seemed dormant for the first few minutes until Colorado’s Alex Kerfoot and Calgary’s Elias Lindholm caused a scrum and began to really go after each other. In an effort to keep the game in control early and set the tone, the officials sent each player to the box to send the message that this will not turn into a wrestling match.

4-on-4 plays favours the Avalanche as Nathan MacKinnon was able to exploit the extra ice and use his speed to create chances. Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog also broke through the defence with a great power move to the net but Mike Smith held strong. Both he and Phillip Grubauer had very strong starts.

A scary moment with just under five minutes to play in the first, as Smith is slide into by Avs forward Colin Wilson who slipped while going hard to the net. The issue with the collision was that it was a feet first collision and Wilson’s skate caught Smith just above the left knee above the leg pad. Smith was immediately down in pain, checking for blood through his gear feeling as if he had been cut. Thankfully Smith would stay in the game. He favoured that left leg as the period finished out but was able to withstand a power play near the end of the period with ease.


Tweet courtesy of @Sportsnet960

Second Period highlights

The second period opened with Calgary getting a chance with the man advantage thanks to a high sticking minor by Erik Johnson. The Flames power play settled in and got the puck to Elias Lindholm who fires a long shot for his first goal since February 27th.


Tweet courtesy of @Sportsnet960

Through the midway point of the second period the shots between the teams were almost even, Calgary leading 20-19. Both teams blue-lines were driving the play. While Colorado’s defence had accounted for 8 of the 19 shots on goal, Calgary’s back-end accounted for 13 of their 20 shots. Both teams could afford to get more high danger chances in an effort to break this game open.

With just about a dozen minutes played in the middle frame, the pace of play amps up. Both teams skill players began to trade chances. End to end action featuring the likes of Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan trading chances with MacKinnon and Landeskog. Tyson Barrie rushing end to end helping create offence for the Avalanche. The intensity of the game really picked up as the the Calgary net-minder Smith is forced to make multiple highlight real saves. Grubauer is tested often but doesn’t crack.


Tweet courtesy of @NHLFlames

Late in the period, the Avalanche begin to control the game and tilt the ice. A dominant shift by the MacKinnon line and then followed up by a dominant shift by the third line centered by JT Compher. The Avalanche pressure seemed relentless, pushing their CF% to 58% through two periods.

Image courtesy of @thePointHockey

Third Period highlights

The end-to-end action that ended the second period continues into the third. Both teams getting dangerous chances in the offensive ends of the ice and both goalies are up to the task. Save after save, the game is being decided by the play in net for both teams.

The Flames finally breakthrough on Grubauer to extend their lead to 2-0 on a rebound goal. Shot from Valimaki at the point hits the Avs backstop and falls to Derek Ryan who makes no mistake. The goal is also Ryan’s first of the playoffs.


Tweet courtesy of @Sportsnet960

With the Avalanche in need of a quick response to the Calgary goal, offence comes from an unlikely source, JT Compher. After their stars being thwarted despite good efforts, the third line center for Colorado pots a goal to pull the team back within one. The rebound was cleaned up and thrown back at the flopping Smith narrowly avoiding being stopped by the goaltender.


Tweet courtesy of @Avalanche

Late in the period, Mikael Backlund trips Landeskog giving Colorado a chance to draw even with just over three minutes to play. With the Avs big boys out on the ice to start the power play, they solve Mike Smith with a deflection goal for Mikko Rantanen. The assist from MacKinnon was a perfectly placed pass to the corner of the crease for Rantanen.


Tweet courtesy of @Sportsnet960

Almost immediate after Colorado ties it up, Flames blue-liner Noah Hanifan made a key mental mistake and flipped the puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty. While on the power play the Avalanche hit the post twice and made numerous plays in an effort to end the game in regulation.

The back and forth nature of this game was exciting to watch. There was physicality, speed, skill and heart. Everything you could ask for in a playoff series.

Overtime Highlights

The overtime begins with fast-paced, hard hitting hockey. Erik Johnson blocked a Giordano shot with his head and Tyson Barrie was blown up in the neutral zone. Mike Smith continues to drink from the fountain of youth with a circus save. Philip Grubauer matches that circus save with one of his own. Cale Makar made a daring play to keep the puck in and sustain pressure for the Avalanche. Overtime is fun.

Tweet courtesy of @NHLGIFs

Much like Hanifin late in the third period, Colorado D-man Ian Cole fire the puck directly over the glass resulting in a Calgary power play. Colorado’s penalty killers put on a heroic performance, preventing the Flames from sustaining any pressure. Constantly turning the Calgary zone entry attempts away, denying any room to skate at the blue line.

After the penalty kill, the Avalanche top line of Landeskog-MacKinnon-Rantanen come into the ice and the electricity in the building built as if they knew this was the moment the game would end. Landeskog corrals the puck at his own blue line and skates swiftly through the neutral zone. After entering the zone with the puck, an immediate pass to MacKinnon drew the focus towards the right of Mike Smith. Carl Soderberg fires a pinpoint pass through the slot to a waiting Rantanen. One-timer, game over. Colorado puts the Flames in a bad spot being down 3-1 in the series.

Tweet courtesy of @NHLGIFs

Hero of the Game

The best player on the ice may have been Nathan MacKinnon or Mikko Rantanen as they dominated the ice for much of the night. The player that gets the cape is Mike Smith. The 37-year-old Calgary goalie was outstanding last night. While he wasn’t always positionally sound and he allowed some dangerous rebounds, he was able to make the desperation saves and keep the Flames in this game when quite honestly, the Avalanche felt like they were starting to run away with possession through the second and third periods. Mike Smith has been the Flames MVP thus far in the playoffs and it’s not particularly close. Unfortunately the flames haven’t been able to capitalize on their stellar goaltending and find themselves in a 3-1 hole going into game five.

Villain of the Game

This game featured a lot of stand out performances. The performance that killed the Flames, warranting villain status, has to go to Mikko Rantanen. His goal to tie it late in the third certainly shook the Flames, but it reassured the Avalanche that they had been playing well all night. His goal in overtime was a thing of beauty. A goal that analytical stats people will love because of the excellent zone exit and offensive zone entry by Landeskog and then the cross ice passing play through the “royal road” that set up the goal. The Avalanche showed up to play and they’ve powered by their star players, Rantanen being no exception.

Three Stars of the Game

🌟 COL RW Mikko Rantanen 2G, GWG, 27:49 TOI

🌟🌟 CGY G Mike Smith .942 S%, 49 saves, 3 goals against

🌟🌟🌟 COL G Phillip Grubauer .946 S%, 35 saves, 2 goals against

Where does this series go next?

The Avalanche have taken the 3-1 lead in the series which means the Flames will be back on their heels. Calgary is likely to come into the next game with a sense of desperation and desire. Look for the Flames to attempt to push the pace of play in game five. The Avalanche will try to come out and make history by eliminating the top seed in the Western Conference, marking the first time in NHL playoff history where the top seed in each conference is eliminated in round one together.

For the Flames to get back into the series, their big boys are going to need to step up. Monahan, Gaudreau and Tkachuk will all need to have big games on the offensive end of the ice. Mike Smith will have to continue filling his water bottle from the fountain of youth channeling his 2012 playoff form once again. The Flames are in rough but expect them to come out fighting in game five because if they don’t, they can’t blame anyone for being upset except themselves.

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All stats and info is from nhl.comhockey-reference.com, theScore.com, Point Hockey and Naturalstattrick.com

Feature image is credited to Nikos Michals

Author: Tony Ferrari

Born in Ottawa, Ontario and raised in Windsor, Tony has loved hockey his entire life. Growing up as the lone Maple Leafs fan in a household of Red Wings fans, he followed both teams since he was a child. Having been through Toronto’s rebuild as a fan, Tony is ecstatic to be along for the ride and watch the Wings get back to their glory days. Having previously written about the Detroit Lions, Tony looks forward to bringing you content from the hockey world in a series of deep dive articles and analytical points of view that can help you better understand the little things we don’t all notice because they don’t show up on the stats sheet.