Flames’ new look ends season-opening drought with 5-3 win over Avalanche – Calgary
The Calgary Flames won their first game of the season for the first time in more than a decade with a 5-3 victory over the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche on Thursday.
The Flames ended the NHL’s longest active winless streak in early games — 0-10-2 after their last win in 2009 — by scoring twice in the second and third periods.
The Calgary Flames take on the Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche in the season opener at home
Dillon Dube scored shorthanded and defender Rasmus Andersson scored midway through the period. Elias Lindholm and Tyler Toffoli contributed power-play goals in the third and Brett Ritchie also scored for Calgary.
Defenseman MacKenzie Weegar had two assists. He joined fellow Calgary offseason acquisitions Jonathan Huberdeau, Nazem Kadri and Kevin Rooney in their regular season debut for the Flames.
Calgary’s Jacob Markstrom, a Vezina Trophy finalist last season, made 22 saves for the win.
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Defenders Bowen Byram, Nathan MacKinnon and Valeri Nichushkin scored for Colorado. Pavel Francouz stopped 22 shots in the loss in his first start of the season.
The Avalanche had traveled overnight to play their second game in as many days. They lifted the Stanley Cup banner and defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 at Ball Arena on Wednesday.
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Kadri signed as a free agent with Calgary in August after three seasons with Colorado. Just weeks after winning the Cup with the Avalanche, the London, Ont., center reunited with his former teammates wearing Flames red.
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Kadri assisted on Calgary’s fourth goal and Huberdeau on the fifth.
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Lindholm and Toffoli scored on the power play at 2:47 and 1:12 respectively to start the third period, but MacKinnon replied at 3:08 on a breakaway and Nichushkin at 11:01 with a power play goal.
Nichushkin cut the deficit on a back-and-forth with Mikko Rantanen, who from behind the goal line fed the winger towards the net.
With his famous speed trick, MacKinnon rode Markstrom for Colorado’s second goal of the night.
Huberdeau on the side of the net froze Francouz and launched Lindholm into the crease for Calgary’s fifth goal.
Toffoli deflected Kadri’s center pass home, then took a high stick in the face of Cale Makar for another Flames power play chance.
Calgary was leading 3-1 at 14:52 of the second period when Andersson picked up a pass from Weegar and scored five holes on a breakaway.
Dube scored shorthanded at 3:31. He opted to shoot a two-on-one with Andrew Mangiapane and beat Francouz’s far corner.
Rantanen had an open net to tie the game late in the second period, but put the puck off the post on a Colorado power play.
Ritchie equalized the hosts at 11:23 of the first period. Milan Lucic from behind the goal line fed Ritchie into the crease to shovel the puck high through Francouz’s glove.
Andersson didn’t hold Byram enough in the slot, and Byram got the puck under Markstrom on Colorado’s first shot of the game at 1:39.
Toffoli had a good chance at the corner of the Colorado net six minutes into the game, but Avs defenseman Devon Toews got his stick in the crease in time to keep the puck out of the net.
- Huberdeau’s group of friends and family at the Saddledome numbered more than 30, including 22-year-old sister Josiane, who sang « The Star-Spangled Banner » followed by George Canyon’s « O Canada. » .
- The Ritchie brothers scored three NHL goals on Thursday. Brett’s brother Nick scored twice for the Arizona Coyotes in a 6-2 loss to Pittsburgh.
- The Avalanche lost captain Gabriel Landeskog to a lower-body injury suffered last season. He underwent knee surgery in March, but returned for the playoffs.
- Center Mikael Backlund appeared in his 827th career game as a Flame, moving Robyn Regehr to third in franchise history behind Jarome Iginla (1,219) and Mark Giordano (949).
- The Flames travel to Edmonton to face the Oilers on Saturday. Colorado remains on the road to meet the Minnesota Wild on Monday.
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