MacKinnon scores in OT, Avalanche beat Flames to even series

MacKinnon scores in OT, Avalanche beat Flames to even series

CALGARY, Alberta (AP) Nathan MacKinnon scored 8:27 into overtime and the Colorado Avalanche tied their first-round series with the Calgary Flames at a game apiece with a 3-2 win Saturday night.

After Philipp Grubauer stopped Michael Frolik at one end, the puck went up ice, where a pass from Mikko Rantanen sprung MacKinnon down the left wing and he fired a shot into the top corner on Mike Smith.

Matt Nieto and J.T. Compher also scored for the Avalanche. Rasmus Andersson and Sean Monahan had goals for the Flames.

The series continues Monday night in Colorado.

Colorado tied it at 2 at 17:21 of the third period on Compher’s first career playoff goal, the result of some fortuitous bouncing of the puck.

Rantanen’s cross-ice pass banked off the skate of Gabriel Landeskog, then off both skates of Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic, before Compher shoveled a backhand over a sprawled Smith.

Monahan had given Calgary its first lead of the night at 12:27 of the third on some similar puck luck.

After winning a faceoff in the offensive zone, Monahan went to the front of the net. Johnny Gaudreau’s initial shot didn’t get through to the net, nor did Sam Bennett’s shot attempt right after – but Monahan’s third try went into the top corner, over the glove of Grubauer.

The Avs were the better team most of the night, especially in a scoreless first period, outshooting Calgary 15-10 and taking it to the Flames physically.

But like in Game 1 when he posted a 26-save shutout, Smith was excellent once again.

The Avalanche’s best chance in the opening 20 minutes was Landeskog’s breakaway off TJ Brodie’s giveaway, in which Smith denied him when he tried to go five-hole.

In the third period with the score 1-1, Smith stared down Landeskog again on a breakaway and again denied him, this time with a blocker save. Chants of ”Smitty! Smitty! Smitty!” were heard throughout the night from the crowd just like in the series opener.

In a second period of momentum swings, Calgary tied it at 1 at 12:26 on Andersson’s first career playoff goal. On a power play, Bennett backed out front from behind the net before zipping a no-look backhand pass across to Andersson, who had an empty net.

Nieto gave the Avs their first goal of the series when he stripped the puck from Brodie at Colorado’s blue line and raced away on a breakaway, picking the top corner over Smith’s glove.

NOTES: Smith finished with 36 saves, while Grubauer had 35. .. Calgary went 1 for 5 on the power play, while the Avs’ power play, which ranked No. 7 in the regular season, went 0 for 4 to fall to 0 for 8 in the postseason. … Both teams used identical lineups from Game 1. … Smith entered with a career .947 save percentage in the playoffs, making him the NHL’s all-time leader.

UP NEXT

The series moves to Colorado for Game 3 on Monday night.

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