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Back to ack! Fatigued Flames fall short in Avs rematch

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No excuses. But none were needed for the Calgary Flames on Sunday night.

Finishing a stretch of five games in seven days, their second back-to-back series didn’t end well. A 3-0 loss to the Colorado Avalanche in Denver wrapped up a brutal recent schedule for the Flames.

Rest – or at least what’s considered a break in these condensed times – awaits them with their next game coming Wednesday at home against the New Jersey Devils. They’ll take Monday off and squeeze in one practice and a morning skate ahead of the Devils game.

“I think it was a hard-fought game. We’ve played a lot of games in a short amount of time. The way the schedule is this year, it happens lots to teams. You’re very seldom critiquing effort. You’re criticizing the schedule than anything else,” said Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter. “I’m sure (the Avalanche would) say the same thing.

“They’re people, right? They’re not machines, these kids. I don’t think many teams question how hard their teams play.”

The Flames played hard but couldn’t come up with a single goal to help out goaltender Dan Vladar in his third start in the last six games. (That stat alone tells you how much hockey the Calgary Flames have been playing). The Avs’ superstars did all the damage on the other side, getting a pair of goals from Nathan MacKinnon and an empty netter from Mikko Rantanen.

More teaching moments for Flames coach

“I thought we worked hard and we were an honest team tonight. Their big guys scored, ours didn’t. At the end of the day, look at it, who scored the goals,” said Sutter, whose team fired 22 shots at Darcy Kuemper in the third period as they pushed for a goal.

“They’re a little more skilled than we are in terms of playing in low, close games. When that happens, your big guys have to finish your opportunities. We had opportunities for it to be 1-1. It’s 1-0 going into the third – it’s a perfect situation for you.”

Another teaching moment for Sutter.

“You’ve got to win them.”

His players will almost certainly be better against Jersey.

“It’s a lot of games, but we kept it close there. It was 1-0 going into the third and had a powerplay and couldn’t capitalize on it. We just needed that little extra oomph tonight and couldn’t seem to find it there,” said Flames winger Trevor Lewis.

“It’s playoff-type hockey right now. You’ve got to make sure you get that extra push in the third and bear down on our opportunities.”

After the Flames posted a 3-0 shutout of their own against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night, they traveled to Denver for the tight turnaround, then home again Sunday after the loss. It was the fist time the Calgary Flames have been shut out this season.

“Disappointing loss. Tight game – playoff-like game. It came down to a few little things that they did better than us to win the game,” said Calgary Flames defenceman Chris Tanev.

“We’ll take what we can from there and we’ll learn and we’ll get better.”

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