CALGARY — It took 13 seasons but goaltender Mike Smith finally heard his name chanted at a game — and in a good way.
The 37-year-old made 26 stops and rookie left-winger Andrew Mangiapane scored the eventual winner as the Calgary Flames shut out the Colorado Avalanche 4-0 on Thursday to win Game 1 of their first-round series.
Beginning with a key sequence of glove saves early in the second to keep the game scoreless, chants of "Smitty, Smitty, Smitty" broke out regularly from the raucous, sold-out, red jersey-clad crowd.
"I haven’t quite heard anything like that before in my career," Smith said. "It gives you some confidence when you hear your name getting chanted."
The only cheers heard at home during the regular season were of the Bronx variety as Smith struggled at times, posting an .889 save percentage on home ice.
"It felt a lot better than the other," Smith quipped, when asked how tonight’s chants felt.
With the Avs on the power play for the third consecutive time, Smith made two huge saves 30 seconds apart to keep the game scoreless.
First, he flashed the leather to snag a backhand off the stick of Gabriel Landeskog. Then he threw out his glove to snag Derrick Brassard’s dangerous snap shot.
"Our killers did an unbelievable job to kill off all those penalties," said Smith, who also had an assist. "I was able to make a couple big saves there in the second, then we go down the ice and (Mangiapane) scores a big goal for us, so obviously that’s a big momentum swing in the game."
It was Smith’s first playoff shutout since May 20, 2012. Smith hasn’t played a playoff game since that post-season seven years ago.
"Great to see the fans really get behind him," said Flames captain Mark Giordano. "He’s a big part of our team. He works his butt off in practice all the time. Can’t be happier for him."
It took until 14:25 of the second period for the game’s first goal, but it was worth the wait as Mangiapane’s unassisted goal was a highlight-reel effort.
The sequence began with Garnet Hathaway’s heavy hit on Erik Johnson on the side boards. Mangiapane collected the loose puck and took it to the net where, showing tremendous patience, he wove around Nikita Zadorov and carried the puck across the top of the crease before sending a backhander from his knees past sprawling goalie Philipp Grubauer.
"The puck was sitting there for me. I had space and took it to the net. It was a nice play by (Derek Ryan) in front, tying him up and screening the goalie. I just wanted to bring it to my backhand and I saw open ice there. I’m happy it went in," Mangiapane said.
Mike Smith putting on a SHOW. #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/k0y2J5WxA2
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) April 12, 2019
Matthew Tkachuk with two goals, including an empty-netter, and Mikael Backlund also scored as Calgary won its first playoff game since beating Anaheim 4-3 in overtime on May 5, 2015.
Grubauer made 28 stops for Colorado.
Calgary made it 2-0 at 18:58 of the second when Giordano’s point shot was deflected out of the air by Tkachuk. Called a goal on the ice, Avs coach Jared Bednar challenged it for goaltender interference, but after a lengthy review, the goal stood.
"The majority of this game I liked the way we played. I liked the speed we played with," said Landeskog. "But at the same time, I’d like to get something in front of Smith and take away his eyes. He’s a big goalie. He makes the saves he needs to. I’d like to test him a little bit more."
Backlund made it a 2 for 4 night with the extra man when his goal at 17:01 of the third made it 3-0.
The Flames finished the regular season on a 1 for 38 skid on the man advantage over the final 13 games.
"I liked the start coming into an energized building against an energized team. Overall, I didn’t think we did enough to win the hockey game, there weren’t more than a handful of players I was happy with," said Bednar.
Notes: Smith was also credited with an assist on the empty-net goal… Calgary opened up the playoffs at home for the first time since 2006… It was the first playoff game as a head coach for Bill Peters, who failed to make the post-season in his four seasons with Carolina.