Flames exit playoffs after loss in Game 5 to Colorado

From NCAA championship to NHL playoffs An inside look at Cale Makar’s last 72 hours

From NCAA championship to NHL playoffs An inside look at Cale Makar’s last 72 hours

The Avs are going to have to pay the big Finn this summer, and they're okay with it.

The same can be said for goaltender Philipp Grubauer, whose play down the stretch got the Avalanche into the post-season and whose play now has kept them rolling.

The Avalanche are 22-20-8 in Western Conference play.

It wasn't expected to end like this, in the first round, on home ice, undone by an opponent Calgary had swept during the regular season.

"We were fighting for our lives for the last 10-15 games", Bednar said.

It is all over now.

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UP NEXTBack to Calgary for Game 5 on Friday.

Not to be outdone, Mikko Rantanen may not be far behind. Colorado's highest fliers combined for eight goals and 17 points and were truly never restrained.

For 82 regular season games Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan were that for the Calgary Flames, but have since fallen deafly silent in their opening round series against Colorado.

"This one stings", Smith said, "especially when you have the lead with 10 minutes left in the third". Even though the Flames were the more desperate team, the Avalanche held the hosts without a shot for more than seven minutes and opened the scoring when Gabriel Landeskog deflected Tyson Barrie's point shot at 9:40 of the first period. Calgary outplayed Colorado in Game 1, and the nature of the series had its course pretty much written. The Avalanche's J.T. Compher scored 72 seconds later on a rebound, then Rantanen tied the game with a power-play goal with 2:50 remaining in regulation. For the first time, the sea of red inside the arena on the Stampede Grounds had something substantive to cheer about. In both overtime wins, he made stops seconds prior to the game-winning goals. Calgary kept applying pressure and it looked like Gaudreau had finally scored, but it was immediately waved off because of goaltender interference and the call was upheld after review.

The Flames missed the playoffs in seven of the previous 10 seasons but finished with the second-best record in the National Hockey League. That is when they won their lone Stanley Cup.

"Some of the strengths we had during the regular season weren't strengths in Round 1", Peters said. Despite the Avalanche's surge, they weren't exactly a trendy pick to spring an upset on a Flames squad that amassed 107 points. James Neal, who was appearing in the playoffs for the ninth straight year, was scratched in favour of the younger (26) and faster Austin Czarnik.

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"Right now, he's definitely the best player still left in the league, in my opinion", Giordano reiterated.

The task they faced was monumental, but certainly not impossible. Had it not been for Mike Smith, all three games would have been blowouts.

The Avalanche advanced to the second round of playoffs for the first time since 2008. There are a lot of players who wouldn't do the same, and that personal accountability is something the Flames could probably use more of.

"If we can manage to play that way for a long time, we're going to set ourselves up for a good chance here", said Grubauer, who won a Stanley Cup title with Washington last season. "Nobody gave us a chance". Only one to regret.

The Flames will have to start all over again in the fall. There is no postseason to remember.

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