Slumping Flames aim to avoid being bullied by Avs

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The Calgary Flames are hoping they’ve reached rock bottom, having lost four straight games. It’ll be downright ugly if things become even worse.

As the Flames get ready to play host to the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, the anger is building. The Flames are coming off a horrid 6-0 road loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday, which followed a 3-0 road defeat against the Arizona Coyotes the day before. It had been more than a decade since Calgary was shut out on consecutive days (March 2009).

“It’s disgusting. It’s bad, it’s bad right now. We need to (turn) this around,” said Calgary forward Matthew Tkachuk, showing emotion that his team has lacked on the ice during its swoon. “Maybe going home for one game can do that, spark us going into that road trip, but something’s got to change here and we have to get back to being the old us. Because this isn’t fun.”

The Flames, who have fallen out of a playoff spot, have surrendered the game’s first goal in 15 of their 23 games. They’ve fallen behind by a 2-0 score in all four of their latest losses, and their defensive woes are equaled by their offensive struggles. Last season, they were second in the league with an average of 3.52 goals per game. They’re averaging exactly one fewer goal so far this season.

“It’s something we’re all sort of guilty of right now, not bearing down and (scoring),” captain Mark Giordano said. “Every team goes through (offensive struggles), we really have to put pucks through and whack one home.”

The Avalanche, meanwhile, are beset by injuries but keep on winning. Colorado beat the host Vancouver Canucks 5-4 in overtime on Saturday for its fourth win in five outings, despite an injury list that includes the club’s top two goalies, Philipp Grubauer (who may return to action against Calgary) and Pavel Francouz, as well as offensive stars Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen.

The key to succeeding despite the troubles, said coach Jared Bednar, is in the effort.

“There’s always things to clean up, always, but I liked our effort,” Bednar said after the Vancouver game. “I liked our commitment. We weren’t perfect, that’s for sure, but that’s things you can coach. I want to make sure our guys are playing hard enough to win every night.”

Despite the injuries, the Avalanche still have a blistering attack led by rookie defenseman Cale Makar, who had four assists in the Vancouver game, and Nathan McKinnon, who capped a three-point game by scoring the winner against the Canucks just 27 seconds into overtime.

“It just didn’t feel like it should have been an overtime game,” said MacKinnon, who was named the league’s second star of the week after netting four goals and seven points in three games. “I just wanted to end it as quick as possible. I wanted to end it first shift, and I’m glad I did.”

Colorado has more injury woes, though. Forward Matt Calvert was injured he was hit in the head by a puck shot by Vancouver’s Elias Pettersson and was sent back to Denver.

–Field Level Media

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