The C of Red washed over Colorado in Game 1 of the first round of Stanley Cup playoffs Thursday.

Goaltender Mike Smith was spectacular in net, making 26 saves, while rookie left-winger Andrew Mangiapane scored the eventual winner as the Calgary Flames shut out the Colorado Avalanche 4-0 to open 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, jersey-clad crowd.

“I haven’t quite heard anything like that before in my career and honestly, it gives you some confidence when you hear your name getting chanted,” said Smith.

Matthew Tkachuk scored twice for the Flames, including an empty-netter, and Mikael Backlund had one as the Flames won their first playoff game since 2015.

Along with Smith, Flames captain Mark Giordano said special teams were the difference in Game 1.

“It starts with Smitty, he was unbelievable tonight, making great plays, and I thought we had a lot of energy tonight, obviously with our crowd,” he said.

“In playoffs it’s important to win the special teams battles and I thought we were digging in when we had to.”

With the Avs on their third straight power play early in the second, 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 (penalty) killers did an unbelievable job," said Smith, who also had an assist.

Calgary Flames, mike Smith

"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."

Mangiapane in turn praised Smith, who at times got a rough ride from the Flames faithful during the regular season.

“He’s really been turning it on as of late and I’m really happy where his game is trending right now," he said. 

"All in all I thought he had a really good year. The way he plays the puck, I don’t think people realize how beneficial is it for us.”

Game 2 goes Saturday at 8:30 p.m., also at the Saddledome and the family friendly, Red Lot Viewing Party gets started at 5:30 p.m. at Stampede Park.

And it’s not just Stanley Cup survival on the line in this series.

The City of Calgary issued a social media challenge to the City of Denver.

If the Flames win, Denver has to change the cover photo on its official Twitter account to one of Calgary’s choosing, and tweet, "Clearly the best team won. Go Flames Go!"

And if the Avs prevail, Calgary has to “hoist a delicious Colorado craft beer,” change their cover photo to one of Denver’s choosing and tweet, "Denver is a REAL hockey town.”

Calgary and Denver’s fire departments are also getting in on the fun, as their unions wagered on social media that the losing city will have to wear shirts from the winners and fly the other city’s flag at their offices.


(With files from The Canadian Press)