SUN Hockey Pool

Avs bury Flames

The Colorado Avalanche celebrate a goal last night en route to a 4-2 victory over the Calgary...

The Colorado Avalanche celebrate a goal last night en route to a 4-2 victory over the Calgary Flames at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:50 AM ET

DENVER - When you're not winning hockey games, you've gotta find some positives.

Here's one for the Calgary Flames ...

Despite suffering a third straight setback in Friday's 4-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center, the Flames found the old Mikael Backlund.

Or maybe Backlund found him old self.

Either way, it's a great sign for the Flames (6-9-2), who have now lost five of their past six games, are without the services of several key contributors and could use an infusion of offence.

Ladislav Smid, the key piece in Friday's swap with the Edmonton Oilers, won't give them that.

Backlund can.

The 24-year-old pivot, who was a healthy scratch last week against the Toronto Maple Leafs and has been stuck on the fourth line, was flanked by Michael Cammalleri and Jiri Hudler and made the most of his promotion, earning assists on both of Cammalleri's goals in the Mile High City.

The only blemish of Backlund's night came just one minute into the second period, when he was whistled for tripping and watched from beside teammate David Jones in the sin-bin as Avalanche centre Paul Stastny banged in a rebound on a five-on-three powerplay to give the hosts a 2-0 lead.

From that point, it seemed like Backlund was on a personal mission to right the wrong.

The skilled Swede stepped around Avalanche rearguard Nate Guenin about five minutes later and slid a pass to Cammalleri, who hammered home a one-timer to trim the lead.

Avalanche winger John Mitchell avenged that goal almost immediately, but Backlund went back to work, winning a battle deep in Colorado's zone and passing the puck to Hudler, who spied Cammalleri for another one-timer.

He almost tied it up later in the middle frame, getting hauled down by Stastny as he swung at a loose puck in Jean-Sebastien Giguere's crease.

Unfortunately, the storyline was far too familiar for the Flames, a hard-effort that resulted in a close-but-not-good-enough result.

They return home with just two points to show for their four-game road-trip. They'll be back in action Tuesday, when they host the San Jose Sharks.

Ryan O'Reilly also scored on Flames goalie Karri Ramo, who finished with 23 stops, and Matt Duchene sealed it with an empty-netter.

Giguere made 30 saves as the Avs, the worst team in the Western Conference last season, improved to 13-2-0.

wes.gilbertson@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/SUNGilbertson

 


Videos

Photos