(Colo.)-Rittich Makes 24 Saves For First NHL Win, Flames Top Avs 3-2
DENVER (AP) - David Rittich was happy to help the Calgary Flames end their road trip on a high note. His teammates were happier that the rookie goaltender notched his first NHL win.
Rittich stopped 24 shots, Micheal Ferland and Mikael Backlund scored in the final minute of the second period, and the Calgary Flames beat the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 on Saturday night.
Dougie Hamilton also scored, and Backlund added an assist for the Flames.
Rittich was recalled Friday and made his first NHL start a day later. He came up with big saves and earned rave reviews from his skaters.
"Very happy for him. He played well tonight, showed a lot of poise, was calm in net," Backlund said. "He didn't look too nervous out there, I don't know if he was but I'm sure getting this win will help him moving forward."
It was Rittich's second NHL game. He logged just 20 NHL minutes in spot duty for the Flames last season.
In the locker room after the win he was presented with the cowboy hat the Flames give to their in-house player of the game.
"It was nice for him. He's a Czech guy, so I don't know if he's had a cowboy hat on before," Calgary coach Glen Gulutzan said. "He looked pretty good. It's just great energy to see him so excited."
Nikita Zadorov and Mikko Rantanen scored for the Avalanche, and Jonathan Bernier stopped 25 shots. Colorado has dropped two straight after winning three in a row.
"We didn't have our legs early. I thought we did a lot of standing around in the first period," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. "We just weren't committed and willing to play the right way tonight in order to get the job done."
Rantanen tied it at 14:32 of the second period, but his turnover in the final minute led to Calgary's tiebreaking goal. Ferland, who hit the crossbar in the opening minutes of the game, picked up the loose puck and beat Bernier with a high shot close in at 19:09. It was his 10th goal of the season. Backlund made it 3-1 with his sixth goal off of a rebound 22 seconds later.
It was the 100th of his career.
"It's cool. It's a big milestone for me going through some tough, and great times, too, here in Calgary," Backlund said. "It's been a roller coaster ride up until here. I'm very happy I reached it, and it's my dad's birthday as well because it's Nov. 26 back in Sweden."
The Avalanche have been dominant at home, losing just once in regulation in the first nine games. Their only other loss, in overtime to Ottawa, happened in Sweden on Nov. 10 when the teams were there as part of the NHL Global Series.
They couldn't solve Rittich. He had 11 saves in the second period when Colorado outshot the Flames 12-6.
He made a big save on Carl Soderberg late in the third but Zadorov made it a one-goal game with his second at 17:06. Bernier came off for an extra skater with 1:25 left but the Avalanche couldn't tie it.
"It was a tough game all around," Rantanen said. "We usually have good starts, but they outskated us in the first and that set the tone for the whole game."
NOTES: Avalanche G Semyon Varlamov missed his fourth straight game. Varlamov hasn't played since Nov. 18 at Nashville because of an illness. He didn't make the one-game trip to Minnesota on Friday but has been skated. ... Calgary's top line of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Ferland have combined for 35 of the team's 69 goals this season. ... The Avalanche failed to score at least three goals at home for the first time this season.
Flames: Host Toronto on Tuesday night.
Avalanche: Host Winnipeg on Wednesday night.
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