NHL Hockey

Final 1 2 3 Tot
Calgary 1 2 0 3
Colorado 2 2 1 5
6:00 PM PT7:00 PM MT8:00 PM CT9:00 PM ET1:00 GMT9:00 6:00 PM MST8:00 PM EST5:00 UAE (+1)21:00 ET22:00 BRT, October 3, 2019
Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado  Attendance: 18,016

Flames bid for revenge in opener against Avalanche

Calgary Flames at Colorado Avalanche

  1. The Flames took all three regular-season meetings with the Avalanche last season, but Colorado came out on top in the playoffs, winning the First Round series in five games. The Avs have gone 3-0-1 in their last four home meetings with the Flames, outscoring Calgary 16-9 over those games.
  2. Calgary won the Pacific last season with 107 points, the club's highest total since tallying 117 in their 1988-89 Stanley Cup-winning season. The Flames averaged 3.52 goals per game, tied for second-most in the NHL behind the Lightning (3.89).
  3. Colorado took points in 10 of its last 11 games last season to clinch the second Wild Card spot in the West, then defeated the Flames in the First Round for the club's first postseason series win since 2008. The Avs look to reach the postseason in three straight seasons for the third time in franchise history and the first time since doing so in 11 straight seasons from 1994-95 to 2005-06.
  4. Johnny Gaudreau led the Flames with 99 points last season (36g, 63a), also becoming the third player in franchise history to tally 60+ assists in consecutive seasons -- joining Al MacInnis and Doug Gilmour (both in 1989-90 and 1990-91). No Flames skater has done so in three straight seasons.
  5. Nathan Mackinnon (99 points), Mikko Rantanen (87 points), and Gabriel Landeskog (75 points) combined for 261 points, the fourth-highest total by a top trio last season. It was the first time the Avs had three or more skaters tally 75+ points since 2006-07, when Joe Sakic (100), Andrew Brunette (83) and Paul Stastny (78) all did so.
  6. Colorado scored 50 goals in the final five minutes of the third period last season, most in the NHL; Calgary ranked second with 44. Meanwhile, the Flames allowed just 18 goals in the final five minutes of regulation, fewest in the NHL.

The Calgary Flames entered the playoffs last season with eyes on the franchise's first Stanley Cup title in 30 years. They were the top seed in the Western Conference, tied for the second-most goals in the NHL and had the second-best goal differential in the league.

The Flames' aspirations, however, were extinguished in the first round by the eighth-seeded Colorado Avalanche in five games.

Calgary returns to the site where its season ended as the Flames visit Denver on Thursday to face the Avalanche in the season opener for both teams.

Calgary returns most of the same roster it had last season, including forward Matthew Tkachuk, who signed a three-year, $21 million deal last week just ahead of the start of the season.

Tkachuk, a rising star in the league, said he wants to win with the Flames and was happy to have the contract signed.

"Having the finish we had last year made it even more clear to me that I want to win with this group," Tkachuk said last week. "I want to win in Calgary."

Tkachuk was a key piece for the 107-point Flames team last season.

The Flames will face arguably the best top line in the NHL. Colorado's three young, exciting stars -- center Nathan MacKinnon, captain Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen -- helped the club reach the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2006.

Rantanen, a restricted free agent this summer, missed most of training camp before signing a six-year, $55.5 million contract last week.

General manager Joe Sakic improved the second line when he acquired Nazem Kadri from Toronto this summer, but he sent his best scoring defenseman in Tyson Barrie and forward Alexander Kerfoot to the Maple Leafs in the deal.

Sakic also acquired forward Andre Burakovsky from the Washington Capitals and signed free agents, Joonas Donskoi, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Valeri Nichushkin to add depth on the lines.

Colorado will have a mix of youth and experience on defense, with rookie Cale Makar, 20, and third-year player Samuel Girard, 21, expected to see plenty of playing time.

Makar has yet to play an NHL regular-season game but he has playoff experience.

Makar won the Hobey Baker Award as a sophomore at the University of Massachusetts, and he was on the ice against the Flames just two days after playing the NCAA title game. Makar finished with a goal and five assists in 10 playoff games and now gets to experience the NHL regular season.

"I'm excited, ready to go," Makar said Wednesday. "I'm looking ahead to the game and not much else to it."

The one major injury for Colorado is to defenseman Ian Cole (hip), who will start the season in the injured list.

Calgary, meanwhile, is confident center Mikael Backlund will be able to play. He left Saturday's preseason game against the Edmonton Oilers with a lower-body injury, sat out practice Tuesday but was back on the ice Wednesday before the team left for Colorado.

Head coach Bill Peters told reporters on Wednesday that will put center Scott Bennett on the top line if Backlund can't play.

"I think he's real close, but we've got to be smart, too," Peters said. "It's an easy little switch, we know what we're going to do if he can't go, so it's not like it'll be a last-minute decision."

-- Field Level Media

Updated October 3, 2019

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