For the first time, the top seeds in each conference have been eliminated in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Colorado Avalanche defeated the Calgary Flames 5-1 in Game 5 on Friday night; they advance to the Western Conference semifinals, where they will face the winner of the series between the San Jose Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights. The Presidents’ Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning were swept out of the postseason by the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday.
Colorado received two goals and an assist each from Mikko Rantanen and Colin Wilson in Game 5. Nathan MacKinnon and Tyson Barrie added three assists each. Rantanen’s emergence in the series helped push the Avs past a Flames team that boasted a Western Conference-best 50 wins and 107 points in the regular season.
After going goalless for the Avs in last year’s postseason, Rantanen tallied five goals in five games vs. the Flames. The Finnish winger will have the opportunity in the next round to surpass the franchise record for consecutive multi-point games in the postseason.
The Flames will return to Calgary wondering how a promising start to the playoffs led to four consecutive losses and an early exit. After tallying four goals in a Game 1 shutout victory, they notched just seven goals in the next four games.
Calgary was particularly hampered by a disappointing series from Johnny Gaudreau. The 25-year-old winger scored a career-high 36 goals in the regular season but failed to record a point in the series. On Friday, he had several prime opportunities to help the Flames but could not get the job done.
In the first period alone, Gaudreau had three breakaway chances, one of which resulted in a penalty shot, but could not beat Avs goaltender Phillip Grubauer.
In the second period, Gaudreau appeared to score his first goal of the series, only to have it waved off after teammate Sam Bennett was ruled to have interfered with Grubauer.
“Halfway through the game, he scored a goal [which was waved off] and had two breakaways,” Flames coach Bill Peters said postgame. “One resulted in a penalty shot, which was the right call, I would think. He tried, I’m telling you, he tried.”
The effort was not enough to prevent the Avalanche from advancing past the postseason’s first round for the first time since 2008.